This Golden Fleece

Esther Rutter

Published: 5 September 2019
Hardback, Demy HB
138x216mm, 352 pages
ISBN: 9781783784356

Other Editions


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Published: 4 June 2020
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 352 pages
ISBN: 9781783784363

Ebook Available

About the author

Image of Esther Rutter

Esther Rutter studied English at Oxford University's Magdalen College, where she held an academic scholarship. She has worked at the Wordsworth Trust and at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, and is currently Writer in Residence at the University of St Andrews. Growing up on a sheep farm in Suffolk - where as child she learned to spin, weave and knit - she retains an affection for all things woolly. She lives in Fife. You can follow her knitting adventures on Instagram @thisgoldenfleece and Twitter @thisgoldfleece. More about the author


‘[Rutter's] stops on her journey round Britain also knit together the past and the present, the social, historical and the personal, in an altogether engaging way...It is the mark of a good writer that they can communicate their own fascination, and maybe even spread it, and this debut book marks her out as a non-fiction writer worth following



‘[Rutter] is a likable guide with a good eye for a story...This is antiquarianism with a modern twist'’

‘[Rutter] is a personable companion. . . [This Golden Fleece has a] fluent narrative, its pace an easy knit-one, purl-one’

‘A beautifully illustrated book that tells the story of wool in the British Isles. . . A must for autumn

‘A compelling literary journey through the social history of wool in the British Isles’ Karen Lloyd, author of

‘A heart-warming mix of travel, memoir and social history’

‘A reflective read with beautiful hand-drawn sketches dotted throughout to complement the chapters, this book provides a meditative outlet to escape with’ ‘Buy-me-now books’

‘An engaging and highly informative read’

‘Esther Rutter unravels the social history and allure of knitting, from Fair Isle to Cornwall via the Hebrides [...] in her fascinating book’

‘I knew by page 2 that this was the book for me. Esther Rutter captures the magic of making in literary lyricism that entices you to read on and on. Tracing the history of knitting, it's patterns and its sheep-bound provenance, she lures you into her own knitting adventures to create a book that is both instructive and inspiring. I loved itClare Hunter

‘I love the sound of this’

‘This agile book unravels wool's long history across Britain, mixing memoir, cultural history and crafting. Esther's study thrives on the localism of sheep, technique and language’ Top ten titles for Christmas

‘This is a book about wool and sheep, the making of Scotland, England and farming, textile manufacture, folk-lore and, crucially, the essential craft of knitting. The plying of wool had been a vital survival skill for over two millennia in Britain before the Romans showed up (bringing their own sheep with them, just in case) making this domestic skill a founding piece of 'civilisation'. From fairy tales to debate regarding national identity, from the year dot to the tragedy of the Scottish Clearances and beyond, the history of plain, purl and intarsia is woven together by Esther Rutter, whose own skill with needles, learned from practical experience, attests that this ancient craft is nothing less than a wonder of civilization. Beautifully written too’ Janice Galloway, author of

‘You don't have to be a knitter to enjoy this wondrous book, although as one, I did smile through most of its pages’

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