By no means least, its the turn of our incredible woolly contributers Louise Spong, Emma Ross and Paula Wolton and resident Team Wovember Photographer, Jeni Reid. Here they all are to tell us what they’ve enjoyed most about Wovember this year. We would like to take further opportunity to thank them, so heartily, for their enthusiasm, support and contribution to our proceedings this year.

The comforting, wool-clad hot water bottle

Jeni Reid

My favourite post was Mariette’s piece, Wool To Aid Negative Thoughts and Feelings.
I love the honesty and openness which help others like me know that they are not alone. I also absolutely love the fact that not all wool has the desired effect. The idea of searching for exactly the right yarn for each person’s needs is a powerful one.  A mental health yarn quest – I’d sign up for that !

Louise Spong

My fave picture so far is this one.

Day 22. Journey Ten or so years ago I made my first visit to the "North American" (NAILE) wool show. I walked down the rows picking out a fleece I liked, turning the tag over…Cotswold. Pick another, turn the tag…Cotswold. After about 4 of those picks I decided I'd look into getting some Cotswold sheep. I made online inquiries, looked at flocks near(ish) me and finally settled on Nistock Farms in NY. Robin was extremely helpful and patient answering beginner shepherd and fiber questions and even sent me some samples to make sure I liked the long lustrous wool. That spring she had an extra friendly wether lamb with a nice fleece that she thought would be a good fit and we made plans to drive out and pick him up – the first of many journeys to the Finger Lakes over the years. Some of our nicest and 'favoritest' sheep (Cotswolds and colorful crossbreds) have come from Nistock Farms and Robin and Andy and neighbor Julie are some of my very 'favoritest' people. And while it's definitely a physical journey out there and back it's also an educational and inspirational journey as I work hard to "be Robin when I grow up". Shepherding is definitely a journey. It's nice to be surrounded by so many good traveling companions. Here are a few of my favorite NY journey pictures. Marcel on his way to KY in the back of the car. Some of the beautiful sheep and cats at Nistock's. And for anyone who's seen rescue sheep Burrnie lately, the picture of Andy CARRYING him out to the car will make you spit your coffee out laughing. www.nistockfarms.com #wovember2017 #wearwoolforwovember #wearwooleveryday #wearprettywool #wovemberinstachallenge

A post shared by Sara Dunham (@thecrazysheeplady) on

You don’t need to read the story (although of course you should and no doubt will) that accompanies this little set of photographs from @thecrazysheeplady, Sara Dunham. The warmth, woolbeing and sheer joy leaps out from each picture and fills me with hope for the future of sheep and humanity.

My favourite article on the Wovember blog has been ‘Sweaters that talk back’ – I do not consider myself to be someone who wears my heart or my politics on my sleeve, as you might say. Although I hope that how I choose to live my life shows rather than tells the story of what is important to me. When I read the title of this post I involuntarily recoiled a little from it. How good it is to challenge one’s own prejudices! I was drawn into the beautiful images of Lisa Anne Auerbach that were so welcoming and joyful. I am absolutely on board with reappropriating, reimagining and recreating, a for the body as billboard? The personal is political. Watch out for a slogan inspired jumper from me.

 

Emma Ross

Julie Rutter, of @blackisleyarns, her #journey post (for the Wovembe Instagram Challenge) was a standout amongst the posts for me this year. Every knitter has a journey, from the first few stitches to choosing yarn for the first project. Her post illustrating the journey yarn takes from sheep to skein is makes me smile every time I hear it. Her passion and enthusiasm really stands out. This again really conveys my love of wool and woolness.

{Joining in with #wovemberinstachallenge – day 22 – Journey} · I can think of so many woolly associations with the word 'Journey' – however one that is very important to me is the journey that my yarn takes, and therefore it's traceability. All my wool is sourced locally to me here in the Scottish Highlands and the most local is my Gotland wool. It comes from the small organic family-run Fearniewell Croft (which also supplies my delicious veg box) – a mere 3.6 miles from my home by road and much less as the crow flies ( @black_isle_veg_boxes ). · We don't have any small mills in the North of Scotland so my wool journeys to the lovely people at The Border Mill, in the Scottish Borders, for spinning ( @jjbordermill ). This year's clip travelled down with me en route to a family party and came back north with John and Juliet when they came up this way on holiday……..both journeys which would have happened anyway. · Now this beautiful yarn is travelling all over the world, hopefully bringing happiness to knitters who enjoy knowing where their wool comes from and the journey it has taken. · Only two of these Shivelight Kits left in the shop………..full skeins of Gotland will be coming soon!

A post shared by Julie Rutter -Black Isle Yarns (@blackisleyarns) on

 

Paula Wolton

Where to start? So many diverse posts –  rich in knowledge, experiences, learning, wealth-of-health, sheep/wool/& fibre buddies, sharing and healing, growing and learning. I could easily go on…. Most posts need a second read, a third and a fourth. To be there to dip into when there’s an obscure thought flickering around the mind that needs to be drawn out and born. So much. It’s difficult. Therefore I’m going to pick one that gave me a totally unprepared for reaction.

I was listening to the fabulous Rapping Shearer aka Adam McClure – a big grin on my face – when I was taken back to 2001 and FMD. Our farm was the only one that survived in a five miles radius. At its peak I had four vast pyres burning around me. The smell. The sight. The ash falling. The silence. Burned into my mind forever. I escaped the contiguous cull by a matter of twenty four hours.

I was completely alone on the farm for months. Robert was working in the New Forest at the time so was unable, not allowed, home. My eldest sons were away at various universities, jobs etc and again weren’t permitted home. The youngest had to board-away for fear of contaminating other farmer’s children.

As the icy February turned into wet spring and then an early humid summer the laws changed for those of us who’d ‘escaped’.  We were not allowed any contractors onto the farm who had been on class A farms (the majority around here).  It was forbidden to move any of our animals.  We were under total lock down….so there was nothing for it but for me to shear my sheep.

I am not a shearer. Oh yes, I can dag and crutch and trim, possibly take the wool off the occasional sheep – but not shearer, certainly not a competent shearer for a flock of sheep. Yet I now had to be. Remember this was the time before WiFi, mobile phones, home PCs – impossible to believe but it was! Learning was being explained how to do it over the phone. Needless to say it was a mighty task. I set myself a number of sheep to shear in a day. Six to eight or possibly ten. I was petrified of cutting the sheep, the speed of the combs & cutters, the heat and weight of the hand piece.

How to manage the flowing dance between sheep and shearer? The placing of the hand, the feet, the effortless manipulation?  My confidence was nil. But I managed. Exhausted, broken-backed and often in tears – I managed. My hands were in shreds – as I chose to sacrifice them rather than the sheep. I sung, I wept and crooned my way through the flock and came out of it with total admiration for the shearer!

Get on Adam McClure! I love your rap, you and all your ilk……

Oh and my sheep, by the way – were patience personified!

 

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