It’s been just over a week since we got back from holiday but it already feels like it was a million years ago. Part 1 of my holiday adventures lives Here. It’s full of pretty pictures about what we got up to when we ventured away from the farm we stayed at. This post is all about our accommodation and why it was right up my street!
Imagine stumbling upon a farm house where the owner spins, dyes, and knits yarn that’s from the fleece of their very own sheep?! I couldn’t believe my luck.
A long lane takes you to Higher Gills farm in Clitheroe, Lancashire. The sheep and surrounding fields you can see are all part of the farm and the hill in the distance is every witch’s and Quaker’s favourite: Pendle (see post 1 for that). The easiest thing for me to do is link to the farm’s website so you can read in more detail about the farm/accommodation/yarn shop. Freda and Darrell run the woolly/yarny side of things as well as the holiday lets, with other family members in charge of the farm management. In previous years they’ve had a stall at Yarndale as well as other yarn festivals but are now winding down. They’re still selling online and the holiday lets will continue but they’re retiring from the yarn events. I liked Freda and Darrell very much. They were both chatty and friendly but also knew when to leave us to it. Our accommodation was one of two apartments converted from an old stable. It was described as rustic, which I’d agree with and pretty much had every thing we needed (I was fully prepared for sub-par wifi but we streamed Game of Thrones with no glitches – super important in my book). My biggest gripe of the week was the too small frying pan that wasn’t non-stick. I let that go.
The farm has sheep and cows, some rarebreed. I didn’t see many cows, just these cute babies. To be honest, I was more enamoured with the stone walls. I was supposed to ask what the jutty-out stones were but didn’t get round to it. Whatever, none of this was the biggest attraction for me, oh no. Before we’d even fully unpacked I was in there with the wool questions. Freda invited me over to her farm house on the Monday morning so I could get answers.
I absolutely loved Freda’s home. It was cosy with an eclectic mix of Stuff. I had a little tour and ended up in her craft room where we stayed chatting for about an hour and a half. I was allowed to have a rummage through countless tubs of yarn skeins, all of which were made from Freda’s Teeswater sheep fleece. I bought a few too because I’ve learned over the last few holidays that yarn makes a great souvenir.
Freda’s craft room was full of experiments and projects. There was a loom next to a spinning wheel next to a table of trinkets and works in progress. What’s not to like?! I could have rifled through it all for ages. It was wonderful to see another person’s creative processes, it made me feel better about my own little corner of crochet “shame”. Non-crafty people tend to think we’re messy. It’s not mess, it’s art!
Here’s the fleece in its raw form. I don’t know how Darrell does it but he sat there for hours, painstakingly separating the very best tendrils from the unsalvageable. You can buy it like this too, they send it all over the world. The long tendrils are one of the reasons the yarn is so soft. No short poky strands to itch you. Apparently, being worsted spun as opposed to woollen spun is also the reason it’s a lot softer than other pure wools (or something like that). Mostly they send away fleece to mills to get spun and don’t make it into skeins themselves. Freda dyes it once it has returned home.
Here are my souvenirs! I haven’t decided what to do with them yet but I’d love to design a shawl with three of them. I think I’d like the red one to be a cowl with lacy stitches, like one I saw Freda knitting in the same colour. It was almost enough to tempt me into learning more advanced knitting but I’m wondering if I can come up with some pretty crochet stitches instead.
What a wonderful discovery for a yarn enthusiast! I learned new things and experienced a very different kind of yarn to what I’m used to. This is the real deal as far as I’m concerned and it’s fascinating. I can’t wait to use it.