It’s always such a pleasure to go to Fernhill Farm for a re-stock of wool. There will invariably be a herd of sheep passing by, a couple of dogs jumping up by way of a greeting or, most recently a very thick mist, rendering the scene particularly beautiful in it’s remote stillness. Jen is always a helpful host and it’s lovely to have a catch up in her little store, which is increasingly filled with amazing woollen treasures from felted creatures, to woven jackets and full sheep fleeces!
I’ve been working with Fernhill fibre for a while now and am so happy to have found a truly local and sustainable yarn to weave with. The sheep are regeneratively farmed, which means that they are able to restore the natural biodiversity of the landscape through their continual grazing in nomadic-style flocks.
It’s really important to me (what used to be a dream!) to be able to use natural fibre from less than 10 miles from my home and to turn it into attractive, wearable cloth on my table loom. The wool is harvested annually by expert (and unfortunately now dwindling in this country) hand shearers and is then sustainably processed by UK spinners. Discovering Fernhill fibre has helped me to move in a new and more focussed direction with my weaving, where I am now reducing the amount of chemically dyed yarns that I work with. I have created a new and growing Truly Mendip range which showcases the undyed beauty of Fernhill yarn.
This is the antitheses of fast fashion and it demonstrates a viability in local, soil to soil garment production, along with many other local makers that also work with Fernhill fibre. Customers of The Handloom Room’s pop-up shop have said how pleased they are to be able to wear something that has fully traceable provenance, not only from within the UK, but in their very own county!
Fernhill Farm has recently achieved A Greener World certification, which recognises their high levels of animal welfare, non GMO practices and that their farming benefits the animals, the environment and the planet alike. This can only help further people’s understanding of local wool as the way forward for their wardrobe. The palette of natural shades available is vast, and I am increasingly thinking about creating a naturally dyed yarn range also. I must admit that it will be a struggle to wean myself off of hot pink tweeds but I believe there is a balance to be struck in pursuit of a greater good.
In addition to Ferhnill Farm’s fabulous environmental credentials, the yarn itself is super soft. It weaves beautifully into warm scarves that can be comfortably worn directly next to the skin. The traces of lanolin that remain in the yarn help to soothe and hydrate dry skin – so not only do the locally produced scarves keep you warm but they also keep you moisturised throughout the winter! As you can tell, I am a bit in love with Fernhill fibre!