Many hands – Collaborating in wool
Here at WOVEMBER we love to hear from people who are passionate about wool and conserving breeds. KATE SCHOFIELD runs Lucky Ewe Designs and is eager to use fine fleeces from farms in Lancashire. She explains a little but of why wool is so important to her and introduces us to some of the people who are involved in her yarns and designs, from the sheep up!
I buy fleeces from farms in Arnside and Silverdale – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – where many of the sheep are conservation grazers, the farms tend to be small, using traditional farming skills.
I work closely with the farmers to ensure that they feel engaged with the project, I pay a fair price for their hard work and knowledge and I get top quality fleeces in return. Its a small area but the farms can supply me with a range of fleeces from native regional and rare breed sheep so that we can handspin, knit, weave and crochet and also have some fleeces mill-spun
The sheep being shorn here are North Country Cheviots and some crossbred Bluefaced Leicester/North Country Cheviot. This is Martin, the farmer, who clips sheep on other farms in the area and is so knowledgeable about his flock and the land that they graze.
This is another one of the farmers I work with. Barbara shares a farm with her sister, Jean. Their Masham fleeces regularly win prizes at regional shows (so does their baking and chutneys!) and I’m lucky to be able to buy fleeces from them.
The farmers I work with all get samples of yarn produced from their fleeces and I let them know where the produce is selling. I hope that we encourage people to appreciate and make more use of wool by promoting a wonderful natural resource, raise awareness of the skills involved in producing good quality fleeces and do a bit to keep textile skills relevant in the 21st century.
From Farm to Yarn is the title I gave to this display of textile work we made for the Silverdale Hotel Local Food and Produce Festival, in June this year. It sums up what we do quite well. We aim to promote the use of wool and encourage people to support local producers. I enjoy working collaboratively with other artisans in the area and make use of the skills of a miliner, upholsterer, rug maker, bodger and carpenter. I hope the display at The Silverdale Hotel shows how versatile wool is. In the picture are hand-spun, hand-knit and crochet garments, handwoven soft furnishings, a pegloom rug, a felted tweed tote bag and some mill-spun yarn.
Thanks so much to Kate for this wonderful snapshot of the hard work that she does to ensure that the sheep breeds, farms and skilled workers in her area are given the promotion that they so richly deserve. Her images show just a little of those skills and knowledge – Look at Barbara’s expert attention to that fleece and Martin’s deft expertise with the clippers…I love how the sheep looks quite comfortable too!
This post is just another example of the wonderful wool relationships and collaborations that are pivotal in giving us access to and knowledge about wool.