How wool and I became acquainted – a little introduction
We got into sheep a little bit naively. I can say that with confidence because at the time of pondering upon which breed to get, (we opted for Coloured Ryelands) we didn’t even know they are renowned for producing excellent wool.
Sheep have a beguiling way of quickly becoming a part of your life. We started out with the intention of keeping a small flock and bought three. However, on impulse we acquired some more, then we decided to lamb, then we had to keep some because they were so cute, and the rest as they say, is history!
We didn’t think about woolly pursuits until well into our first year of sheep keeping, when the time came to have them sheared. Being new and enthusiastic smallholders, we wanted to be as hands-on as possible so we decided to shear them ourselves and booked ourselves on to the British Wool Marketing Board shearing course.
Despite the back-breaking and brutal physicality of it, shearing is a weirdly magical experience. Once the course was over and we were back home and able to walk again, we couldn’t wait to get started. Trying to remember the complex “dance” and various manoeuvres we’d learned, we somehow managed to relieve our girls of their woolly coats.
Nowadays we hire in local shearers, I’d like to say it’s because we have more sheep and can’t keep up, but the truth is we have happily admitted defeat and leave the shearing to the experts.
Fortunately, our foray into shearing wasn’t consigned to the great filing cabinet of life experiences. In fact, it was to mark the start of a whole new chapter for us; that of the world of wool and yarns!
You see, we were so proud of those first fleeces, that despite them being rather holey and oddly shaped, we wanted to keep them forever, as a reminder of what we had achieved.
The planets aligned and suddenly it became clear what we needed to do – have the fleeces spun into yarn! And as the final planet shifted into position it occurred to me that perhaps I should acquaint myself with some knitting needles … but that is another story …