It's funny what you can find out when you get up VERY early in the morning. Like today, when I caught a fascinating documentary about Fair Isle this morning, on Radio 4.
Fair Isle knitting, as a technique, originated in and has been important to the economy of the Northern Isles for generations. Its links with Shetland wool production, and the skill level involved, mean that its status has long been protected so that the tradition can continue. The documentary I heard, which you can listen to via this link, was prompted by the news that knitting will no longer be taught in local schools.
An interesting argument that was put forward by one of the Fair Isle knitters was that garments produced in this specialised and traditional way should be granted Fair Trade protection. To produce a jumper at around minimum wage levels would incur a price tag of around £700. This provoked a discussion about the challenge of educating the wider public on the pricing of traditional skills, whether knitting should be left to re-emerge simply as a hobby or gifting skill, or whether artisans should expect to have to take another type of part time work in order to subsidise the production of traditional garments. These are things I think about all the time when I'm knitting, so I was delighted to hear it voiced on national radio. It's only a shame that it was discussed shortly after 6am, when anyone with a choice in the matter is still catching up on sleep.