Its ready! My Norfolk Horn yarn is finished. It will be wending its way to me very soon.
Gulp. Golly, shit just got real! I’m having a bit of a panic attack. What have I done? Is this project going to do what I want it too?
Its been a long journey already. Beginning in the winter of 2015 when the first itching of wanting to do something for these regal wonderful sheep who helped me out so much.
The itch would not go away. I knew from my spinning life that many small holders have nowhere for their fleece to go aside from the odd one to spinners like me. Most talk of using them for mulch or compost or worse still burning. This lead to more research into what happens to wool in the UK. Phone calls with the wool board. The prices paid. Conversations with local sheep farmers, small holders and their shearers. The appalling situation that people who keep small flocks of rare breed sheep face when it comes to their fleeces made me more convinced to do something. I wrote up what I found in a post on the issue here . Rachel Atkinson (Daughter of a Shepherd) wrote a particularly impassioned blog post : fleeced in her blog My life in Knitwear. Recounting how her father received less than £10 for his entire clip of Herdwicks from the Wool Board, roughly 3 pence a fleece. I was convinced that this was absolutely a good thing to do.
More research. How exactly did you get fleece turned into yarn? Is it possible to produce a yarn from Norfolk Horn that would be beautiful and economically viable? Who would spin it? It had to be done properly. And by properly I meant not just spinning the breed to its best but also with care to the environmental impacts from this process. If you know me you know I live my life trying to do less evil so this is a non negotiable part of it. The Natural Fibre Company had answers to all my questions.
It was a fun spring and summer finding the people who keep Norfolk horns that would sell me their fleeces. People like Oliver in the village with his tiny flock. The team of volunteers and Richard the farm manager at Gressenhall Museum of Rural life who gave me their entire clip. Waiting on people who turned out not to be able to help me. The weird and the wonderful. I’m not a sociable type, so for me this was well out of my comfort zone. But it was good for me to have something to focus on.
Another question was how do I raise the funds to pay for it all? This project had to stand on its on its own. No funding. No raiding the pension fund. No savings to draw on. I spent the summer at local events with The Fibre Workshop squirrelling every penny into to the Norfolk Horn Project fund. So thank you to every one that bought a mini batt, handyed roving, spindles, fleece and felted nicnaks. I could not have done this without you.
And, in October 2017 I took my tiny crop of 3 bags full to the mill. You can read about that adventure here.
And now its coming home!
I am beside myself with anticipation…
And also a little bit terrified…