A Lancastrian Legend
As soon as I started Northern Yarn with my whole focus on local wool from Lancastrian farms, my mind was quickly set on having my own line produced. As many of you already know my first line was Poll Dorset from a farm in Quernmore – which is just down the road from where I live and I know lots of the farmers there. (Handy that!) I released a pure Poll Dorset 4 ply in lambswool and a DK which was a blend of Poll Dorset shearling and Bluefaced Leicester from a neighbouring farm. I was blown away by it and the response from customers was overwhelming.
That was October 2016 and it sold out almost a year ago – I’ve been waiting patiently (ok maybe not so patiently) for the 2017 clip to come back from the mill and a few weeks ago – she arrived. Now I loved the first batch but I’m even more in love with this next one! Last October I gathered a few friends together one afternoon and we took hours picking the nicest, longest tufts to go in to the blend. It was back breaking but brilliant! It’s still very definitely sheepy with a Poll Dorset bounce but it’s oh so very lambswool soft! It really resembles the fleece we sent off.
I have named her Northern Yarn 'Jennett'
So why Jennett I hear you ask? Well let me tell you. I love this, get comfy. When we moved to Lancaster we quickly realised that radiators were not going to keep our old house warm in the winter, so we invested in a stove and bought it from a farmer out in Quernmore (Bob Whitaker Stoves). While we were perusing (or while Andy was) I went outside to admire the view of the Quernmore fells and valleys and I was soon joined by the Bob. I told him we had just moved up from London and he told me he and his family had lived here looking at this view for literally hundreds of years. Not so long ago I couldn’t imagine wanting a quiet life, preferring the hustle and bustle of London – but looking out I could completely understand why you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Bob then told me a story about his ancestor who and the story he told has always stayed with me. Back in 1687 a woman who lived in Quernmore heard the awful news that her daughter and son in law had died in London from typhoid, leaving behind two very young children. So she literally jumped on a horse and rode to London ALONE and brought the infants back in the panniers. Her name was Jennett Cragg. What a hero! Back then not only would it have taken weeks but it would have been a dangerous journey; thieves, bandits, etc, she risked everything to get her grandchildren back safe to Lancaster – it’s such a moving story. (Apologies for the much condensed version - there is actually a book about Jennettwhich I just had to order when I found it!)
Then, after I released the first batch of Quernmore wool I had an email from someone in Australia, who told me they couldn’t wait to get their hands on the wool because they had ancestors from Quernmore – that’s right – they were related to our Jennett!!
And so I felt this wool deserved a special name – that captured centuries of Lancashire living; honest, loving, hard working farming people, proud of the beautiful piece of Lancashire where they worked and lived. I like to think that Jennett would smile at the idea of a wool being named after her, but most probably she’d think I was mad as a brush. But either way the story was so special it had to be told again – so if and when you’re knitting with Jennett, think of the love of a grieving mother and devoted grandmother riding down to London to get her grandbabies and you’ll be knitting together your own piece of Lancashire history.
Much thanks to Katherine (fiberandsustenance), Wendy (YarnSub) and Christine (Winwick Mum) who helped me sort the wool and photo credit to Katherine for this amazing photo of Jennet looking over Quernmore from Clougha Fell. (Also where my husband recently broke his leg but we won't go into that now!)
Northern Yarn' Jennet' 4 ply will be available on the shop's 1st birthday 8th September 2018 and then online the same day at 8pm. It's small batch but don't worry as we have more coming!