Introducing the West Highland Way club

I’m particularly excited about this year’s club and design collection. This is because it takes its inspiration from my home landscape and daily stomping ground: the West Highland Way.

The West Highland Way is a long distance walking route of just under a hundred miles that travels from Milngavie in the south to Fort William in the north. Around fifteen thousand people complete the route each year, and walkers come from all over the world to experience it, in whole or part. The route gives a wonderful introduction to this part of Scotland, and allows you to experience a wide variety of stunning landscapes on foot, from gentle lochsides to boggy moors, from the picturesque environments of lush woodlands to the sublime drama of rocky highland peaks. I live right here and every day feel lucky to walk around these landscape: how could I not want to design a collection inspired by the West Highland Way?

If you participated in last year’s club, you’ll have a sense of the sort of thing that we have planned: each week you’ll receive a pattern, together with an essay introducing you to an area or theme. The themes range from poetry to geology, from social history to the natural or built environment. Please be aware that this club is emphatically NOT peddling some sort of shortbread, Outlander fantasy of Scotland: the West Highland Way is a place of great beauty, but not one of romance. The themes the club will be exploring have their basis in the ordinary realities of my home landscape.

Because this is where we live, and because we’ve been planning this club for the past twelve months, we’ve been able to think about some interesting ways of documenting and communicating what’s so special about the West Highland Way. You will discover several places that you are unlikely to find in many guidebooks and can expect to see stunning photography from Tom, as well as some innovative footage and short films.

So how will the club be structured? The club begins at the start of the West Highland Way, with a trio of accessory patterns that I’ve designed for our new yarn, Milarrochy Tweed, in several different colourways. These patterns have been created specifically to enable club members to creatively explore the new tweedy palette. Everyone will be encouraged to play with colour, and to develop their own ideas, and there will also be a competition (and prizes). Make sure you join my Ravelry group (if you’ve not done so already) to participate!

We’ll spend the next three weeks travelling along the West Highland Way to Loch Lomond, exploring my local landscape, together with three further designs for Milarrochy Tweed, two of which are garments. I’m particularly proud of one of these designs, but all I can really say about it at this point is that I think of it as this year’s Oa. I hope this means something to some of you.

The next group of designs take us along the north shore of Loch Lomond, and into the West Highlands, past the iconic mount of Beinn Dorain. These designs all feature Buachaille (my sport / DK weight yarn), and again there is a balance between garments and accessories. The textured elements of these designs reflect the surrounding environment as we explore the relationship between loch and mountain, together with the human presence in the landscape.

The final design group carries us over the vast expanse of Rannoch Moor, down into Glencoe, up the Devil’s Staircase near Altnafeadh (so named by the English soldiers who clearly did not enjoy its challenges), down into Kinlochleven (the Highlands’ first “electric village”) and around the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, where the West Highland Way concludes. Forming a contrast with this increasingly rugged landscape, the designs in this part of the club all feature openwork, and use Fyberspates Cumulus. This beautiful light, soft yarn has a wonderful new colour range (not yet publicly released) whose design potential I’ve recently been enjoying. If you’ve not yet come across it: Cumulus is sort of like Kidsilk Haze, only better. This section of the club features two garments and two accessories, including a hap design.

So what does a club subscription involve? How much does it cost?

The club has two options: one for those of you who would like to sample Milarrochy Tweed (subscription numbers for this option are limited), and one for those who would just like to participate in the weekly pattern element and receive the West Highland Way book at the end (subscription numbers for this option are unlimited).

In more detail, then:

Option 1: yarn sample pack / weekly patterns / West Highland Way book – £80.
12 balls of Milarrochy Tweed, exclusive 8oz canvas Milarrochy tweed project bag (posted prior to club commencing).
Access to all patterns, newsletters, videos, other extras
10% discount on all items in KDD shop for the duration of the club, including Milarrochy Tweed (January through March)
120 page print book (posted out at the club’s conclusion)
2 x shipping (yarn pack and book) anywhere in the world.
The number of available subscriptions for this option is limited.

Option 2: weekly patterns / West Highland Way book – £30
Access to all patterns, newsletters, videos, other extras
10% discount on all items in KDD shop for the duration of the club, including Milarrochy Tweed (January through March)
120 page book (posted out at the club’s conclusion)
1 x shipping (book only) anywhere in the world
The number of available subscriptions for this option is unlimited.

For those who would prefer option 2, but who are keen to try a skein or two of Milarrochy Tweed, you will be able to purchase the yarn upon its general release separately later in January 2018.

I hope this has answered any questions you might have. If there is anything else you’d like to know, please leave me a note in the comments and I’ll try to respond tomorrow . . .when I’ll also be able to show you one of the special multi-colourway patterns I’ve created with Milarrochy Tweed (for those who are interested in participating in the yarn element of the club). I’ll also let you know about the timing and full arrangements for subscriptions (opening in the shop on Friday, November 17th).