It’s an unavoidable fact of keeping most breeds of sheep that you have to have them shorn every year (or shear them yourself, although that’s not something we’ll ever be doing!). The output of shearing is, of course, fleece. And Ryelands are *very* fleecy.
In previous years we’ve sometimes struggled to ‘dispose’ of the fleeces. We’d sell what we could to spinners and other hobby processors, for a few pounds per fleece. If we could cover the cost of the shearing we’d be happy. Sometimes we couldn’t sell them, and they ended up as lining for hanging baskets, or in the worst years the spare fleeces got laid in muddy gateways to make them more passable by foot. At least they served some useful purpose, and weren’t just thrown away.
After a few years of running the Scottish Smallholder Festival, meeting more fleece crafters and processors and learning more about the possible value in our fleece, in 2016 I took the plunge and decided to have 13 of our 2015 clip Coloured Ryeland fleeces spun at the Natural Fibre Company.
Sue Blacker has been a staunch supporter of the Festival, and we knew that the fleeces were in good hands and that we’d get a top quality product back.
So a few weeks ago, we took delivery of two large cardboard boxes full of balls of our very own Rosedean Ryelands yarn – very exciting! Now, I’m not a knitter and still know very little about yarn, so a very large debt of thanks is owed to the amazing Jeni and her network of crafty folk. Jeni and Jules were here just after the yarn arrived, gave it the once over and the seal of approval.
Jules went so far as to acquire a number of balls and has produced a lovely unique pattern for mitts using the yarn:
We’re hoping the yarn is popular enough that we can sell all 200+ balls, and have the confidence to repeat the project with this year’s clip. The 2015 yarn is a blend of our coloured fleeces and a few white ones. With more fllece in the 2016 clip, I’m hoping to do two batches – one with the lighter fleeces and one with the darker ones.
The yarn is being launched at Fluph in Dundee tomorrow 7th May (thank you to the amazing LJ for the opportunity). I’ll be taking along home-baked cookies so even if we don’t sell any yarn, it won’t be a wasted trip.
If you’d like to buy some Rosedean Ryeland yarn, you can do so right here on the site – view the yarn shop page. It’s priced at £5.50 per 50g/100m ball, or £5 per ball if you buy 11 or more. We’ll post to anywhere in the UK for £2.80.
Otherwise I had better learn to knit. 🙂