As many of you may know, I have been a handweaver and spinner for many years. In addition to managing this website, I also have another website through which I market and sell my own handspun and handwoven products. I like to work with natural fibres and eco-friendly dyes.
Some time ago, I moved to Chichester, which is located on the south coast of England, in the county of West Sussex. I retired from work recently so now have more time to devote to spinning yarn and making pretty things.
The local Council of Chichester operates a bi-weekly farmers market providing local farmers a venue to sell their farm products. I have applied for permission to operate a market stall where I hope to sell my hanspun wools and wares. Part of their criteria for operating a market stall is that at least 30 % of the products are obtained locally – within a 30 mile radius of the city of Chichester. I agree with the council’s strict criteria and am happy to support the local farming community.
This has now led me on a search for locally grown fleece. Previously I was purchasing wool roving from the UK mills and weaving shops. However, the mills are often not able to identify which sheep farm the wool came from.
Over the last few weeks I have met some wonderful farmers and visited their farms and pastures where the sheep and alpaca graze.
I am still waiting to hear whether my application will be successful – fingers crossed.
If not – I have enjoyed the adventure and it has led me to some lovely countryside adventures as well as new sources for fibre.
I have also had some difficulties in sourcing suitable fleece. I visited a sheep farm today, hoping to purchase some coloured fleece. Sadly, although the fleece were in reasonable condition, they were not of a fine enough quality for hand spinning yarns suitable for knitting clothing. It would be good fleece for rug yarns however. I considered purchasing the lot and sending it to a local mill to be cleaned and carded. I could use it for weaving rugs, but this isn’t the current quest, so decided I would leave this for another day.
The farmer admitted that he was primarily concerned with breeding sheep for food production rather than for the wool. He shears his sheep and sends it off to the wool marketing board where it is graded and sent to mills for processing into yarn but he doesn’t know what type of yarn is produced. I think if we as hand spinners wish to keep this craft alive and want to support good quality local wool production, we have to become more demanding and ask farmers to also consider breeding sheep for wool and not only for meat.
I thought that I would set up a Facebook page to document the places I go, the farmers I meet and also have a daily record that shows what I have carded, spun, and dyed today.
I hope that you will enjoy following along and that it will inspire you to get spinning!
Campaign for Wool
Live Naturally and Choose Wool
HRH the Prince of Wales speaks about the decline of the British wool trade.