From Sheep to Chic
From Hand pulled fleece, to crochet & felt hats, brooch pins & scarves.
Who we are.
I am a felt-maker using traditional hand-rolling methods (not felted knitting!) from the wool of our own sheep, natural vegetable dyes, to my own individual and unique designs. We have an organically-reared breeding flock of Soay sheep (link) in honey to deep brown fleece colours. We are committed to environmental sustainability in our animal husbandry, felt-making, and livestyle.
I make small individually-designed items from mainly natural and local raw materials. My work includes hats, bags and jewellery, some combining silver and semi-precious stones from Fair Trade sources. The felt is hand-rolled using wool from my own sheep and that of other local farmers, and alpaca. I use my own hand-made soap and the local soft water in the making. I introduce silk and other fibres to produce special textures, colours and effects: or I use undyed natural sheep and alpaca colours and fleece textures with stone and leather fastenings. Sometimes beachcombed findings are incorporated, particularly sea-scoured glass and pottery fragments. I avoid plastics and man-made fibres and fabrics. Many of the dyes are my own, produced from natural, local vegetation. I hold the Peak District Environmental Quality Mark for the sustainable nature of the work, and its use of recycled, and local raw materials.
My inspiration comes from the natural landscape, particularly the rocks, flora and fauna of local upland locations, and the shifting patterns of sand, sea and light around the West coast of Britain. But having studied Byzantine art for many years, including a PhD, I am aware of its influence of strong shapes, colours and textures in my work. Many years ago, I studied Fine Art at Leeds College of Art, but then moved into academic life.
I took up feltmaking a few years ago, alongside working as a university lecturer in an Art and Design Faculty. It is becoming an increasingly important aspect of my life, hopefully to become my main occupation in the future. I exhibit at the Buxton Artist and Designer Fairs, Crafts @ the Castle at Bolsover, Wirksworth Festival, and my work is on sale in several Peak District galleries. I am confident in workshops and demonstrations, having taught adults for many years, and always have work in progress while exhibiting, together with examples of raw and dyed fleece and yarn for people to handle.
I also run workshops for those wishing to acquire felt-making skills. These can take place in my home high in the Peak District, or I can provide a workshop for a group in other premises. I do not organise these groups myself, but if you are either an organisation, or a few friends, I can plan and run a workshop for you. This will cost from £100 for a half day in total for the group, plus materials and my travel. In half a day, you can plan on making a piece of flat felt, and also a basic bag or hat in the round. Materials would cost about £5 per person.
Where we are:
Our small holding is located high in the heart of the Peak District, immediately bordering the Peak District National Park. It is easily accessible from Greater Manchester and Sheffield, each 40 minutes by train or by car. For details of surrounding attractions, please see our “cottages” pages.