Easton Royal, Pewsey, Wiltshire
I breed rare breed Wensleydale sheep and I produce very high quality fleeces, sliver and yarns as well as finished products. My main emphasis is weaving with some felting but this also encompasses natural dying and handspinning. Some of my fleeces go to Bradford for commercial spinning mainly because of cost. I grow some natural dyes in my garden but also have to resort to buying them in due to quality and consistancy.
With my weaving I exploit the different characteristics of Wensleydale yarns and other fibres used in combination. This can be in shrinkability – for example, combining the Wensleydale with locally produced alpaca or Shetland to get bumpy fabrics or combining the lustre of Wensleydale with ‘chalkier’ matte fibres. Handspinning helps to produce unusual yarns which I can use in the weaving.
With felting I produce small and larger sculptured animals (from the waste produced from handspinning preparation) and also wet felted cobweb scarves. The latter are very labour intensive to produce due to the propeties of Wensleydale fleece but when they work are very beautiful.
I also give talks to schools and adults about the different fibres, their unique properties, and how to process fleece from sheep to fabric.