Wovember Words: Wool from stuffing to stitches
At WOVEMBER we love to hear exactly why people love to work with wool. Louise interviewed Linda Regel – owner of Made By Ewe – last year for KnitBritish: her knitting kits are illustrative of her love for British wool and here she explains her inspiration for her Knit Your Own Sheep kits.
“It is absolutely essential to me that all of the yarn in the kits is British. There is so much lovely yarn in this country, as you know, so why would you want to use anything else? I like to know that the yarn I buy is supporting British farmers. I also try to use as many other British things as possible – the stuffing is fleece from British sheep and the new tube packaging is made in Britain. The knitting needles are purchased from a British maker too.
The kits contain yarn from different breeds – mainly Shetland, Blue faced Leicester, Gotland, Herdwick, Wensleydale at the moment. The Gotland wool is local to me, from a farm in Hampshire. I only have a small amount and it is very hard not to use it all up myself!
The Campaign for Wool was set up by Prince Charles to raise the profile of wool as a natural, sustainable fibre. I wanted to be part of the Campaign as one of the main aims of Made By Ewe is to promote wool. I am an approved partner, which means that the CFW have reviewed the business and agreed that I can use their logo and feature on their list of partner websites. I feel very proud to feature their little green sheep on my packaging.
Inspiration from the kits comes from my subconscious. I think it must be a mixture of that childhood spent making things and cute things that appeal to me now. I also have a large collection of craft books dating from the 1940’s all through the 1970’s and 80’s to present day. I expect that leafing through the books from time to time sows seeds in my imagination that quietly grow into ideas.
The most popular kits are the Knit Your Own Sheep kits and I know that I spent a lot of time on holiday in Wales as a child picking sheep’s wool off barbed wire fences – such treasure and all for free too! I used to spin it on a drop spindle my Dad made me, dye it with plants from the garden and then knit it into suitable outlandish garments.
No doubt that influenced a general liking for sheep and the idea that their fleeces come off. Some of my customers have knit the entire range of sheep kits and they like them because the fleeces use different knitting stitches – cables, lace work, etc – and they are small enough to practice the techniques without committing to a big project.
Passion for British wool from stuffing to stitches – and isn’t it infectious? Since this interview last year Linda has opened a bricks and mortar shop in Broadwindsor Craft Centre, Dorset. She champions British wool and the yarn in her shop ranges from commercial spun pure UK wool, yarn from British dyers and wool yarn from small producers, as well as rare breed yarns, such as Dorset horn. Linda has lots of other kits, in addition to the sheep, including Christmas decorations, accessories, cozies and more.
Thanks to Linda for the kind permission to reprint her woolly words on WOVEMBER. Quotes and pictures copyright of Linda Regel/Made by Ewe.