Mary Bell of Crookabeck Farm, Patterdale, with some of her beautiful wool and mohair farm produce.
In the heart of England's Lake District, past the dramatic high fells and green verges of Ullswater, lies the village of Patterdale. A drive along a narrow back track brings us to Crookabeck Farm. Through the misty rain, small hulking figures can be discerned - Herdwick sheep, who famously morph from black lambs to grey adults, are quietly grazing.
Owner Mary Bell is waiting to take us into her small yet densely-packed farm shop,
with its stacks of Herdwick woolens and rainbow-hued hanks of mohair. Her yarns are exquisite, spun on Victorian-era mill machinery from the angora goats that climb the hills above Crookabeck. Soft and warm mohair socks in many colors hang on racks, as well as lovely scarves of hand-dyed fiber blends.
Mary is a charter member of the Woolclip, a small
cooperative of farm women who together have created a path for themselves:to preserve and foster the growth of smallholdings that produce natural fibers from sheep, angora goats, alpaca and other breed animals in the Lake District.
Their Woolfest is the highlight of our Textile Travel Lake District trip "The Woolfest Rove", from June 25 to July 3, 2007.
Although our focus will be on the Woolfest and mingling with British and European fiber enthusiasts, we will also explore Roman ruins along Hadrian's Wall, walk some scenic trails in the Lake District, take a steamer across Lake Windermere, and visit interesting literary and garden landmarks, including Beatrix Potter's home at Hill Top.