We ' fell ' into the spinning and weaving world, not quite by accident, but by owning a small flock of sheep and having to have them sheared.
Spinning the fibre seemed the next logical step to take, we also learnt how to blade shear the sheep, so being able to take the fibre thrugh all the processes by hand - from
the four hooves to the two feet. This takes in shearing, sorting, cleaning, carding, spinning, dyeing and then the creation
Our main love is to work with Rare Breed fibres, especially the Longwools, having owned a flock of Leicester Longwools and Wensleydales. Our introduction to Rare Breeds came through answering a local advert - 12 sheep for £50. we went to have a look ( trailer in tow, I knew they were coming home with us ) and as we rounded the corner the farmer said to us " once you get hold, don't let go! "
There stood 12 little brown sheep with horns, certainly not what I was expecting. We loaded them and took them home and then looked up on the Internet for the name that the man had called them - Soay's. A small primitive breed from the island of St Kilda and our introduction to the Rare Breed Survival Trust.
Alongside the Soay's we kept Leicester Longwools, Wensleydales, North Ronaldsay's, one Suffolk,
Texel x Frieslands and a core commercial flock of Romneys.
On the large girls we ran a Leicester Longwool ram - Squire - and he was tupped to all the girls, the primitives had a
Soay ram. Fibre was our main breeding programme, although we did have some very nice plump ram lambs for the
We asked a local spinner of repute to do a comparison spin test on our lambs wool, we gave her some of
the Leicester, Wensleydale, Suffolk & Romney all of which had the Leicester ram as the father. We naturally thought
the Leicester / Leicester would come out as top, or the Wensleydale / Leicester, imagine my surprise when
she stated that in her opinion it was the Romney / Leicester that had produced the best fibre.
This was by no way a scientific judgement but it went a long way in showing us not to assume that just because the fleece has the same genetic make up it will make a better spinning fibre. Some of the world's finest fibre has been arrived at by crossing breeds - Polwarth & Corridale to mention just two. What I feel would be an outstanding fibre is for a WhiteFaced Woodland crossed with either a Lincoln or Leicester!
In the Autumn of 2004 we sold our small farm and moved to the beautiful County of Cornwall.
We no longer keep sheep but have plenty of friends that do, so when we feel ' broody ' we pop along and help out.
We have immersed ourselves with the Cornwall Guild of Weavers Spinners & Dyers and life has never been busier.
We can been seen at most of the County's Agricultural shows, demonstrating the art & craft of spinning & weaving
Check out our Events page to see where we will be throughout the year
HAWTHORN FIBRES BESPOKE SPINNING & WEAVING SERVICES