Welcoming Yew Tree flock to Suffolk Made.
Many Thanks to : Suffolk Made WiRE member: Claire Staddon
Do you ever wonder how ‘hand made’ hand made is? Well for our newest maker on Suffolk Made she can claim nearly 100%. Helen Christian lives in a small village, that you would probably drive right past not even noticing..but within these collection of houses lies a nugget of gold. Helen started keeping sheep because her daughter’s best friend did, and had some spare lambs! These fabulous south downs sheep are one of the prettiest sheep in the UK and are extremely sturdy and meaty (yum) ((sorry my vegetarian friends)).
They grow fleece everywhere so the wool is very thick and heavy yet despite this Helen tells me they don’t like the snow. So Helens’ sheep grow the wool and then Helen turns into a alchamist and turns this into gorgeous knitted accessories. She can pretty well guarantee that she knows the journey of everything she produces. This could be as green as it gets, as the fleece is taken off the sheep by hand, and then the wool is spun by hand and she knits by hand. In fact the only process that uses electricity is when Helen decides to add a bit of colour and then she dyes the yarn in the microwave! Helen knows each sheep and the wool they produce so she can even tell you who’s wool she has used for each pair of mitts, hat or even her delightful mini sheep.
You might question the word alchemy but having seen what the fleece looks like and then to see Helen spinning that into what looks like nicotine stained string (not very inspiring) you wonder why bother, then through the simple process of washing this nondescript string turns into light fluffy wool, right before your eyes it truly is like magic. Our only question, which Helen doesn’t have an answer for is how did someone know. What made someone all those hundreds of years ago think to take a fleece through this process to turn it magically into something so useful, strong, versatile and warm? Answers on a post card please! Even now people are revisiting fleece and finding all sorts of new and innovative uses for it. Is this the original up cycling I wonder.
Helens’ products will be joining the Suffolk Made site in early March, she is currently spinning to make more stock! Whilst you’re waiting take a look at her facebook page, she has many more photographs of her products and flock.
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