Friday, 1 July 2016

Peg Looming Raw Fleece Mats at Fernhill Farm

."Glastonbury looked a proper mudfest on TV.  I'm glad this cold stopped me going on Spinning Camp."  
My companion, Elinor Gotland, was in the garden, sipping lemon and honey. She looked distinctly peeved to see me arriving home clean, fresh and in riotous high spirits.

"Oh, we had a ball, our new marquee is marvellous, didn't matter if it rained.  Great Hen Party last night, there was Prosecco all round and Long Island Tea to follow."  I carried in my stuff from the car.  "Look what I made on our trip to Fernhill Farm.  There's a whole fleece woven into both mats.  Go on, try sitting on one, they really insulate your bum from the cold 
ground, be perfect to cushion the knees while gardening."
Elinor gingerly lowered her arse onto a mat and tweaked at a lock of the wool.
"This sheep could have done with a shampoo."
"Fernhill Farm has 2,000 sheep. Their shearing barn is a dream of comfort and convenience, but funnily enough, I didn't see a Beauty Parlour."
My companion sat looking 
through the holiday photos.  
"Ooo, I see what you mean, that barn is a cut above kneeling on a groundsheet wrapping fleeces in the middle of a field."
"It certainly is.  They can even do weddings and parties in there, the farm has lovely, ecofriendly accommodation with reed beds to treat the waste.  We might book an indoor camp there this winter."
Elinor bounced on my fleece mat.
"Fair play, this is comfy, Beaut. Bet it took you a while to do."
"Only an hour or so.  Jen has had her Dad make these massive peg looms with 10mm steel rods 5cm apart.  They have a hole to thread strings through to be the warp, which you knot at the length the mat is going to end up.  She showed us how to take a whole raw fleece and just draft it a bit as you go, putting in a little twist while weaving it in and out of the pegs. Once the weaving is packed up to the top, the pegs get pulled up and the wool slides down onto the string.  Doesn't take long at all with a big, thick fleece."
"Looks like you all had a good time without me."
Elinor gave me a dark look and blew her nose violently. 
"Didn't mean it like that. I couldn't believe we were working with such gorgeous wool.  Jen only picks out the very best fleeces to sell for proper spinning.  Should have seen us rootling through those bags, with half the fleeces unrolled on the floor and everyone eyeing up what the others had their hands on."

"Oo look, it's Barry in this photo. I like his mat more than yours. 
A man of such good taste. Grey is the most elegant colour."

I've put my mats in the suint vat and given them a rinse, just to get the worst off while leaving the lanolin waterproofing.  The Happy Campers UK will be in Somerset again for a long weekend of spinning, knitting, weaving and pretty much anything to do with wool, 9-11th September 2016.  

Do come and join us, there is a B&B in the farmhouse if you don't have a tent.  It's very informal, just a random group of adults doing whatever project they have in hand, with general skill sharing. Don't imagine you haven't any useful skills, you can always join me doing my best thing - washing up.

I'm pretty sure Elinor will be there doing her thing - drinking tea and supervising.


  1. yeah, I can see her: sitting on her mat, sipping, smoking a fag here and there - and giving out smart comments:) nice mats, I should really dig out my peg loom again, haven't used it in ages (ever since we had a power cut and I convinced DS to make a pillow for his chair! which ended up half done, because the power came back just when he ran out of patience:)

    1. That is pretty much Elinor's role, on camp and at home. I too have a neglected pegloom, only got part way into a small mat and left it so long it got moths - horror and hoovering,