Wool has woven itself gently through Rachel’s life – from growing up on a mixed farm in Scotland, to a knitwear business she had in the 1970s when handknits, Fair Isles and handspun wool were greatly in demand – and now, happily with her own sheep, she finds herself immersed in it again.
Gutchpool have an award-winning flock of Dorset Down sheep, and primitive Shetland followers. Rachel knows them all, and their welfare is of the utmost importance to her. They graze on species rich meadows and herbal leys following Holistic Planned Grazing principles. Their own hay, and willow tree hay, supplements their winter diet with plenty of browsing and selective grazing in the hedgerows and verges during the summer months, which they love.
The combination of the fleeces they gather from these breeds gives them super soft wool. This is spun into both weaving and knitting yarns. The weaving yarn is made up into large throws in both the natural colours of the primitive breeds as well as a small range of organically dyed shades. The knitting yarn is coming soon in a range of natural and naturally dyed colours, in various thicknesses, and Rachel is designing and writing knitting patterns to go with the yarn.
By adding value to their sheeps’ wool, Gutchpool see the finished product right through the cycle, from the lamb born in April, to their first and subsequent shearings, and at every stage, the carbon footprint is kept to a minimum. Wool is entirely biodegradable so once a garment is worn out, it can be composted down. The carbon stored in it is returned to the soil and the cycle begins again.