Wovember is the brainchild of Felicity (Felix) Ford and Kate Davis, and is celebration of all things wool and a cry to arms for all of us who value the wool we use and wear in support the UK wool industry. I would urge readers to investigate Wovember and do their bit to support their local wool industry, whatever happens in the UK will be replicated across the world.
I’m lucky enough to know Felix, she’s a really passionate advocate for what she believes in. She places value upon artist- made hand crafted products,whether that’s the yarn she uses in her knitting, the patterns she knits, products and projects made by her friends or items and knowledge that she’s come across. Felix is one of those genuinely inspiring people who manages to convey thoughts and passions in such a way that she challenges what I know and causes me to gain insights and understanding that has broadened my horizons.
For a year now I’ve lived in a rural idyll in Wiltshire, surrounded by fields, in a house called West Farm, in this time my awareness of the importance of local “produce” has grown immeasurably, as has my understanding about the responsibilities I have in order to sustain this lifestyle. I’ve been trying to reduce my footprint by using what I have on hand (not always successfully) in my craft activities, to give more thought to the origins of the food I buy and to avoid wasting less, to recycle more and try to change the resources I use for more sustainable, environmental ones.
For several months in spring and early summer my neighbours were a flock of sheep, all of which were heavily in lamb. My husband and I became very attached to these rather wild-looking beasts, and watched them eagerly each day as they gave birth to their lambs. We enjoyed the sight sounds and smells of the sheep, and became involved with the flock when some terriers set upon the lambs. Seeing the anger and passion of the shepherd about the irresponsible owner of these dogs caused me to understand and care more about my woolly neighbours.
Being a shepherd in the twenty-first century in Wiltshire isn’t always about tending an established flock in one place for a single farmer. Paul, the shepherd who tends the flocks near us, looks after a number of flocks, for a number of people across part of eastern Wiltshire. He has the requisite border collie, a shepherd’s crook and drives a traditional pickup truck, to check his far- flung stock in their fields he rides a quad bike, with his collie behind him. His sheep weren’t a specific breed, these were hill sheep which until days before they arrived in a Wiltshire field had been grazing high on some fells in the North West. They weren’t used to human contact so appeared skittish and wary of the edges of the fields, and of us. We were genuinely sad when our woolly neighbours were moved to different pastures, and the fields around us ploughed up for wheat.