In the footsteps of sheep

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in the footsteps of sheep

In the Footsteps of Sheep: Tales of a Journey Through Scotland, Walking, Spinning, and Knitting Socks by Debbie Zawinski

Debbie Zawinski tells an enchanting story of her journey around Scotland to collect fleece from ten Scottish sheep breeds, spin it into yarn, and knit those yarns into a single pair of socks. The breeds are found in the farther corners of the country - in the Shetlands, the Borerays, on North Ronaldsay, and so on. These old breeds are usually not shorn, so it is possible to collect rooed (naturally shed) bits of fleece from fences and bushes. The socks serve as a diary of her travels. As someone who enjoys hiking, camping, knitting, and spinning, I was bound to like this book.

I tried to read it slowly and relish the journey. For this American reader, it was helpful to have phone/tablet at hand to look at maps as I began each chapter. Zawinski includes some hand drawn maps, but they were too zoomed in for me to have any idea where she was. (I should say that at the very end of the book on page 183 there is a full map of Scotland...but I didnt know that until I finished!) I also found myself looking up a lot of words. There is a helpful two-page glossary at the back (which I discovered about halfway through the book), but there were many more terms which left me scratching my head. How nice to have google to sort it out. For instance, when Zawinski mentions buying some flapjack and millionaire shortbread in Langholm, I discovered that flapjack is a sort of Scottish granola bar and millionaire shortbread is a classic tray bake with layers of shortbread, caramel, and chocolate (tray bake is British for bar, something I learned on the Great British Baking Show). I also found some recipes I want to try!

I was continuously intrigued by the differences between hiking in Scotland and in the U.S. Zawinski tromped over a mix of private and public lands, some with trails and some without, and nearly always had the option of catching a local bus or ferry to hurry her journey along. She packed light, carrying only a rucksack (there was no photo included, so Im not sure if it was a large frame backpack like we use for backpacking here) with a lightweight tent or bivvy. She didnt seem to plan her campsites ahead of time and sometimes asked permission to camp on private land. And rain? No worries. She trekked through any weather.

I was also very interested in Zawinskis spinning stick, which was described as a stick and not a drop spindle. She includes one photo of it (page 24) and there is definitely no whorl. That led me down a whole new rabbit hole and along the way I watched the delightful Spin like youre Scottish video. This entire book was a grand reminder that you dont need a bunch of fancy tools to make stuff. You can do a whole lot with very little. Packing light, Zawinski didnt bring a niddy noddy - so she made one by lashing together sheep bones and twine which she found while beachcombing. This sort of ingenuity is very appealing.

Zawinskis photos are stunning (she didnt mention her camera but I wondered how high-tech her photographic setup was, given the excellent results in a mostly grey climate). I wish they had been captioned, though. This and a few other details could have (should have) been addressed in the editing process. One detail that confused me was that Zawinski described the socks she knit during the journey in the text of each chapter, but the only photos were of the socks she designed after her trip using the breed-specific yarn - or commercial yarn - for a specific recipient she met along the way. After much narrative description, where were the photos? I didnt see one until page 180.

Whether you knit, spin, hike, or camp, this account of a hobo of the woolly arts; a forager of fleece (36) is likely to catch your fancy. If you enjoy more than one of those activities, you should definitely check out this book.

Update 10/12/16: Franklin Habits review of the book
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Published 25.08.2019

Niali Sheep Deaths: Villagers Claim Presence Of Unknown Creature; Footsteps Spoted

In the Footsteps of Sheep is a beautiful book about how the author carried out her idea of walking through Scotland while spinning found wool from different sheep breeds and knitting socks. I don't spin and I may never walk through Scotland, but this book with Zawinski's eloquent.
Debbie Zawinski

That’s Spinnertainment: In the Footsteps of Sheep

In the Footsteps of Sheep details the author's mission to travel and camp throughout Scotland, find cast off tufts of wool from 10 Scottish sheep breeds, then spin the wool on her spinning stick while walking or waiting for ferries , and finally design and knit one pair of socks to represent each breed Debbie Zawinski has written beautifully about her journey; the hills, shorelines, and bogs explored; the sheep and people she met along the way; weather both foul and fair, and a particularly exciting chapter about the intriguing St Kilda archipelago and its feral Soay and Boreray sheep. The 11 sock patterns, one at the end of each chapter, are a bonus and, and for those of us unable to gather and spin our own fleece, all were test-knitted with commercial wools. Ten of the patterns represent the different sheep breeds from which Debbie gathered her fleece, and the eleventh combines fleece from all ten breeds into one sock. The designs are knitted from top to toe with different motifs, among them colour-patterns, cables, spirals, stripes, Kilt Hose with top-turnovers, and a pair of baby booties. Now in stock! View Larger Image.

JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. Availability: In stock. In the Footsteps of Sheep: Tales of a Journey Through Scotland, Walking, Spinning, and Knitting Socks captivated us from the first glance at its striking photographs and the author's beguiling prose. In the Footsteps of Sheep details the completion of a mission the author, Debbie Zawinski, a Welsh-born Scot, set for herself: to travel and camp throughout Scotland, find cast off tufts of wool from 10 Scottish sheep breeds, then spin the wool on her spinning stick while walking or waiting for ferries , and finally design and knit one pair of socks to represent each breed Debbie has written beautifully about her journey; the hills, shorelines, and bogs explored; the sheep and people she met along the way; weather both foul and fair, and a particularly exciting chapter about the intriguing St Kilda archipelago and its feral Soay and Boreray sheep.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter full of MDK fun. With a fair amount of glee, we bring you Franklin Habit. Or old and good. With Franklin, you never know. Of all the many species of memoir, none is tougher to cultivate successfully than the Inspiring Personal Journey. Too little inspiration along the path, and you have a ho-hum string of mild anecdotes. Too much, and you have a braggypants Instagram feed from which even your dearest friends will rapidly unsubscribe.

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In the Footsteps of Sheep details the completion of a mission the author, a Welsh-born Scot, set for herself: to travel and camp throughout Scotland, find cast off tufts of wool from 10 Scottish sheep breeds, then spin the wool on her spinning stick while walking or waiting for ferries , and finally design and knit one pair of socks to represent each breed Debbie has written beautifully about her journey; the hills, shorelines, and bogs explored; the sheep and people she met along the way; weather both foul and fair, and a particularly exciting chapter about the intriguing St Kilda archipelago and its feral Soay and Boreray sheep. The eleven sock patterns, one at the end of each chapter, are a bonus and, for those of us unable to gather and spin our own fleece, all were test-knitted with commercial wool. The designs are knitted from top to toe with different motifs, among them color-patterns, cables, spirals, stripes, Kilt Hose with top-turnovers, and a pair of baby booties. The author is an intrepid Scottish woman who, after earning a medical degree and raising her children, packed her rucksack with bare necessities, and set off to camp and walk throughout Scotland. I confess that I looked at the pictures first, and they enabled me to travel with the author, from my armchair.

5 thoughts on “In the Footsteps of Sheep: Tales of a Journey Through Scotland, Walking, Spinning, and Knitting Socks by Debbie Zawinski

  1. by Debbie Zawinski (Author, Illustrator), Schoolhouse Press (Editor) The eleven sock patterns, one at the end of each chapter, are a bonus and, for those of us unable to gather and spin our own fleece, all were test-knitted with commercial wool. Vogue® Knitting The Ultimate.

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