Saturday, 26 August 2017

Supporting Rare Breed Sheep

Knettishall Fair, in Suffolk,  was held recently. It is a day event held every other year and there are a number of 'country based' stalls and activities, the aim being to provide a nice day out for the visitors and raise awareness (and some money) for Suffolk Wildlife Trust. Knettishall Heath is interesting;  it is a really special area of open Heath in 'the Brecks' area of Suffolk just south east of Thetford ( 1) 
The Rare Breed Survival Trust had a largish marquee and were happy to house members of Diss Weavers, Spinners and Dyers along with their own activities. 
I volunteered to go along, I love the Heath and it is nice to give something back to organisations such as these and have a thoroughly great day interacting with the public I thought long and hard about the best use of my time on the day that would complement the Rare Breeds message. So I decided to take:
The Pansy  jacket - hand spun Jacob (2) fleece knitted  from Becky Whatley in Diss. The detail is yarn dyed with cochineal, the lighter pink being dyed with the exhaust of the first bath. The jacket, being knitted in an aran weight yarn took about the whole of a fleece. Visitors find this information both interesting and helpful to know. 
The general view of the Rare Breeds Marquee - taken before the visitors arrived- shows the Pansy Jacket on a mannequin at the front. 

The Skaw Hat - which was knitted in hand spun  Shetland (3) from Shetland! I then naturally dyed the yarn inspired by seaweed on Skaw beach, the most northern beach in Scotland. The pattern was designed by Hazel Tindall, a true knitting genius. The hat was knitted for Shetland Wool Week 2014. 

I love this hat and more details  of the dyeing can be found here in posts August and Sept 2014 if you are interested. Comments often include ' don't the colours go well together' - they do when they are naturally dyed. There is often surprise about the colours of the seaweed and also the colours of the hat. It is nice to show that natural dye colours need not be 'mud coloured'. 

Sample Bookmarks
As many of you know one of my passions is fine lace knitting. These bookmarks are all in Norfolk Horn (4) fleece- now my local fleece! The yarn diameter is 0.15mm- I know this as I have measured it with a stage micrometer on a microscope. 
The bookmarks show how changing the needle size has a dramatic effect on the overall look of the lace. 

SO, what did I do as an activity ( other than talking!) ? I spun quite finely Boreray Fleece on a top weighted drop spindle rolling it up my leg! This is the rarest of the rare breed fleece.(5) My aim is to knit a bookmark with this too. 

The sun shone, there was great camaraderie in the gazebo, visitors were interested and for many their awareness of different 'wool' (and just how fragile some of the breeds of sheep are ) was increased. All in all a thoroughly great day out. 

(1) it is an SSI site and gives one the feeling that you could have been there 4,000 years ago and the landscape could have been very similar ( except the parking places, loos, picnic tables etc.) It is said that the landscape was created in the Bronze Age and the area does have much geological and archeological interest too.  It feels a special place to me and I am fortunate that I am only half an hour away. 
(2) Jacob has progressed from being  on the RBST watchlist 
(3) Shetland has also progressed from being on the watchlist
(4) Norfolk Horn is in the minority (1500-3000 registered adult breeding females) 
(5) Boreray Is in the vulnerable category 

More about Suffolk Wildlife Trust
More about the Rare Breeds Survival Trust

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