West Highland Way book

Our new West Highland Way book has just been published!

I’m rather proud of this collection of thirteen patterns, five of which use our wonderful new Milarrochy Tweed yarn

The Craigallian Hat and Mittens

The Strathendrick pullover

The Còinneach Cardigan

and the Shieling blanket

The collection also includes four patterns in our original own-brand yarn, Buachaille

Rowchoish – a bobble and cable shrug

The Stronachlachar cabled tee

Highland Rogue, a textured, circular snood

and my favourite spring cardigan Oran do Chaora

And the final four patterns in the collection feature Cumulus – a light-as-air silk/ alpaca blend.

The delicate Myrtle pullover

The Altnafeadh gauntlets

A graphic wrap, Electric Village

and an elegant shawl, The Observatory

All of these patterns are available individually on Ravelry, collectively as an e-book, or – for exactly the same price – as the print + ebook, which is now available from our shop.

I honestly think West Highland Way is the most interesting collection I’ve yet produced. Because of the simple fact that there are now more of us (Mel began working with us full time last spring) I’ve had more time, space and leeway to take a few new directions when creating my designs. Mel and I work on the sample-knitting together, so when we are developing a new construction (such as the nifty seamless saddle-shoulder shaping of Oran do Chaora) there’s two of us checking the clarity of the instructions and the efficacy of the method. Because I’ve been spending less time on the non-creative work involved in running my business, and because Mel and I now have a collaborative system of pattern development that works so very well, I’ve felt more free to explore new shapes and construction methods, and have produced designs that, to my mind at least, are a little bolder. (Thanks, Mel).

Strathendrick is one of my favourite designs from the collection, and I feel particularly happy to see knitters taking on this undeniably epic project, and looking fabulous in their finished knits.

But there is more to this book than the patterns.

I know I’m biased, being married to him and all that, but I think Tom’s landscape photography for this book is just amazing (as are the videos he produced especially for the West Highland Way club)

Tom’s images are, in themselves, breathtakingly beautiful, but I love them all the more because their general point is often to illustrate how the West Highland Way is as social and cultural as much as it is “natural”.

And this is very much the emphasis of the twelve essays I’ve written for the book as well.

In my essays you can read about the associations of this landscape with the Scottish outdoor movement (Craigallian; Rowchoish); with matters of public health and public ownership (Stronachlachar); with clearance and cultural conflict (The Shieling); with Gaelic song (Oran do Chaora); with political and imperial control (Altnafeadh); with Romantic tourism and (mis)representation (Highland Rogue); with modern industrial development and decline (Electric Village) and with scientific curiosity about that most British of topics, the weather (The Observatory). There’s also essays in which I explore my own personal connections to the West Highland Way as well (Strathendrick; Rannoch Moor).

This written material is more substantial and wide-ranging than that which I’ve produced for previous books. And again, I think these sections work so well because they were produced collaboratively, as Tom and I shared our ideas about what we wanted the book to discuss and depict.

The West Highland Way book also benefits from the collaborative expertise of several of our friends: Gordon Anderson (additional photography and general inspiration); Ivor Normand (copy editing); Rachel Atkinson and Jemima Bicknell (technical editing); Anna MacQuarrie (Gaelic editing) and Nic Blackmore (book design and layout).

And Bruce would like to point out that his role clocking up many hundreds of Highland Way miles during the production of this book was absolutely crucial.

This is the ninth title we’ve published under our own imprint with the help of our fantastic Glasgow printers, Bell and Bain. It’s a project we’ve loved working on, and feel proud to have produced. All of us here at KDD very much hope that you enjoy this book!

Happy knitting, reading and walking from us all!