Sue Horn of Hawkshaw Sheep in the Scottish Borders is our guest on the show today. She shares the ups and downs of being a shepherdess, creating your own yarns and fabrics and farm life.
Ever wondered what it is like to commission your own yarns? Sue shares how she decided to produce yarn, as well as how she went about producing fabric from the yarns.
Becoming a Shepherdess
Sue became a shepherdess originally with Cheviot sheep. She found them to be quite a handful in terms of their attitude! They were stubborn and were prone to being a bit of a challenge when she was trying to look after them. After one attempted head-butt too many when trying to treat their feet, Sue moved to Shetland and Hebridean sheep, which are smaller, much more friendly and biddable.
As Sue quickly found out, there was less of a market for these fleeces with the Wool Board. It didn’t make sense to her, to pay more to shear the sheep than the fleece was worth. Also, these fleeces were lovely, and she was sure there would be a market for the yarn amongst people who understood how great these fleeces are. She decided to use her life savings to get the yarn spun, and figure out the rest from there!
A trip to Edinburgh Yarn Festival later, Sue had a plan for sharing these yarns with the world. She commissioned her own cloth from some of the yarns (which were spun specially for weaving). The cloth was woven in the Scottish Borders on Victorian machinery. Sue had it made into various products, as well as offering it to buy as fabric.
This story was particularly inspiring, as Sue had previously had no experience of textile manufacture, and just dove into the whole thing.
Sue also shared some funny stories from the farm, including being given a horse to round up the sheep, as she was prone to getting the vehicles stuck in the mud.
You can find Sue at http://www.hawkshaw-sheep-yarn.co.uk
Music from this episode is ‘I Need a Drink’ by Adam and the Walter Boys, available via iTunes.