Monday, 13 June 2011

Fantastic Fleeces

The committee and I were delighted to recieve an invitation from Freda Magill to visit her farm, and see the process that the wool goes through before we are able to use it in our felting. We headed down to Rathfriland with our wellies on, for our farm visit, we were all like school children, very excited by this invitation! Although I had grown up on a small farm which had sheep, I never realised the lengthy and painstaking process the wool goes through before it is ready for us to felt with. What makes this even more amazing is that Freda does an immense amount of the work herself! We were first shown into the shearing shed which had an adjustable height shearing table to prevent the shearer bending! We noticed the differences in the fleeces ,the wendsleydale fleeces from the younger sheep were a lot more curly, and all the fleeces had a tremendous amount of lanolin evident, this would be reduced when they were washed. The washing process could only be started on a day with suitable weather conditions so as to enable the fleece to dry, as once washed it takes several hours to dry.

Lambs that Freda has to hand rear they were born earlier this year!

Then we proceeded out to the fields; where we saw ewes rearing triplets, young ewes with their first lambs, some pet lambs and even a newly born lamb that had arrived that morning (especially in honour of our visit!!)

Wensleydale Lamb born that morning!

After a short walk up the hill we visited the main flock of Wensleydales, Texel and Wensleydales  X Texel, who were more wary of us than the younger lambs. The view of the countryside was spectacular as were the sheep.
Once back at the farm we were able to see Freda's stock of over 30 different varieties of wool, each type having different qualities and uses in felting! Freda uses a wild carder to card the wool then she dyes in to many colours and her colour combinations are fantastic. As if carding all the wool isnt enough Freda also has a loom and weaves some into the most amazing fabrics which we were able to admire.

We had a very informative and fun filled morning, which made us all appreciate the work involved in preparing the lovely wool for felting. If you would some rare breed wool contact Freda at it is perfect to use in the competition at Gosford Park in September, entires can be given to Liz Nicholls.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.