I have been in love with sheep and wool from my earliest memories of the lambs in the pink, frothy, blossom-laden orchards of my childhood! I learnt to knit as a child, progressing to my first jumper at age 13 and I have never stopped. I learnt to spin wool at age 21 and added crochet to my skillset in my 30’s. I also dye yarn in variegated bold colours with protein dyes and calmer colours using indigo and other plants including bracken, comfrey, ivy and oak leaves.
My love of all things sheep led to me collecting two ewes and a ram from the National Trust Farm at Llanerchaeron in 2015. It was love at first sight! Agnes and Bryher are two very naughty Llanwenog /Blue Faced Leicester crosses and Stevie came along with them as a freebie. He was a pure bred Llanwenog with the characteristic black face and legs but had been born blind. Everyone loved Stevie and they were desperate to find a safe home for him. He was the gentlest, cuddliest chap and I miss him greatly (he sadly passed away in March 2020). However, he lives on in my 2019 blend of yarn, and in the brand name!
I gradually became more interested in not just hand-spinning my yarn, but in having my own brand spun in larger quantities. Farmers receive a scandalously low amount for their fleeces (often around 20p per fleece) and I wanted to do something active to help redress this.So, in 2019 I took fleeces from my own three sheep and local Llanwenog fleeces to Curlew Weavers near Llandysul to be spun into knitting yarn. This was a pilot run to test the market. Fortunately, I found there was a healthy amount of interest in the yarn. People responded well to the fact that the fleeces were sourced locally and spun in a small, traditional Welsh woollen mill resulting in a product that has low mileage in its manufacture. The demand for environmentally friendly, natural and biodegradable products also meant that this yarn, as pure wool, was warmly welcomed. The high quality fleeces and the expertise of Roger and his team at Curlew has resulted in a beautiful, even, soft and full-bodied yarn perfect for knitting, weaving and crochet.
I sell the yarn in its natural cream colour, but have found a keen interest among crafters for my hand-dyed creations. I use protein dyes to create lively variegated colourways, indigo to produce a lovely range of blues and greens, and plants to create a wide range of natural colours with softer tones. I forage many of the plants from the local area, and I have had to expand production to meet the demand. I am currently selling through the Crafty Cafe in Dinas Maddwy, a first class cafe and craft shop in spectacular surroundings.
I plan to use money raised from this Crowdfunder to help cover the costs of taking a new batch of fleeces to the mill. I will continue to sell the resulting yarn as a natural undyed product, and to continue with my dyeing adventures to tempt my customers. I am also working on knitting patterns designs so that I can sell kits comprising of yarn and pattern. I will expand my on-line selling presence, and find more shop outlets to sell through.
For the 2020 batch I am excited to be teaming up with Dysynni River Ryelands, based near Tywyn. I have fallen in love with their ‘Teddy Bear’ flock of sheep comprising of pure bred Ryelands, Dorset/Ryeland crosses and a few Welsh Mule/Ryeland crosses. I am adding fleeces from Agnes and Bryher and altogether this blend should produce a gorgeous, light and airy, soft knitting yarn. It is so rewarding to pay a local sheep farmer a reasonable amount for their fleeces, support a traditional mill and provide a fantastic, natural, good quality and sensibly priced yarn to my customers. I also look forward to creating with it myself! (Please note, the yarn supplied in the Rewards will be Double Knit weight, and the estimated date for delivery will be end of January as the Mill has a lengthy waiting list).