Episode 72: An Interview with Alice Elsworth of Whistlebare Yarns

Alice Whistlebare

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This week we welcome back Alice Elsworth of Whistlebare Yarns in Northumberland for our entrepreneur interview. Having given us loads of great mohair knowledge in episode 69, I can’t wait for you to hear all about life on the farm.

Image Copyright Whistlebare Yarns.

Image Copyright Whistlebare Yarns.

The beadalong continues – come and join us over on Ravelry!


Alice Elsworth joins us again to share her story of life on a Northumbrian farm, breeding and keeping Angora goats and Wensleydale sheep, along with four free-range boys, who are in charge of the sheep.

Image Copyright Whistlebare Yarns.

Image Copyright Whistlebare Yarns.

Never heard of Whistlebare before? Here are some words from Alice about them.

Here at Whistlebare producing yarn is entirely a family affair. Every stage of the process is in our hands from selecting the livestock to labelling the last skein of yarn. When you buy natural yarn from Whistlebare you know that it has been produced with the utmost care; both for its quality and beauty, and its concern for animal welfare and environmental impact.

On our small family farm in North Northumberland we keep pedigree flocks of Angora Goats, for their fine mohair fleece and Wensleydale Sheep for their high lustre longwool. Every attention is paid to our animals’ care from planting mixed swords of grass and herbs, keeping their hooves neatly trimmed, patrolling ‘maternity’ through the night at kidding / lambing time and housing them in thick straw beds through the cold winter months. Any feed that is required in addition to that grown on the farm is sourced from our local mill.

Equal care is taken in the process of producing top quality natural yarns. Our mohair and wensleydale fleeces are scoured, blended and worsted spun in Yorkshire. The mill that we use is in its third generation of family ownership. We ply our yarn into 4ply, double knit and aran weights and then return it to the farm to be dyed by hand.

Whistlebare 5

It’s clear from how Alice talks about the farm in the interview that they operate with the highest standards of welfare in mind, even changing from pigs and cattle when the abattoir closed locally, meaning a long and stressful journey for them at the end of their life. This led to the ability to move from meat livestock back towards the Angora goats she loved as a teenager.

Image Copyright Whistlebare Yarns.

Image Copyright Whistlebare Yarns.

Of course, the thing we’re all interested in is the yarn (although we do love cute goats and sheep too of course) and Alice has been through a journey into her yarn producing. She’s currently working on a 80/20 Mohair/Wensleydale sock yarn which should be available in December.

You can find Alice and read more about the farm, as well as peruse her fabulous yarns which are hand dyed by her on the farm over at her website, where you’ll also find links to all her social media profiles.


There’s a call from lovely Fi aka Feltaria in the Shinybees podcast group on Ravelry for anyone who’d like to join in an advent sock knitalong. I love this! Much better use of leftovers and will be great fun too. Check out all the details here.


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That’s all from me this week. As always, thank you for listening. Feedback is always appreciated, and you can email me or message me via Ravelry or social media. If you enjoyed listening today, please consider leaving an iTunes review, to help others find the podcast too. Happy crafting!

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