Give Us A Wee Coorie! And Happy Lupercalia (or Valentine's Day to me and you)

Hello and happy 14th February to you all. We don't really make a big deal out of Valentine's Day (except it was the day my now husband packed up his belongings and moved to London to be with me many moons ago!! Then 5 years later we all packed again and moved back up north and it happened to be 14th February! SO it does actually hold lovely lurve connections for us!)

As I was thinking about all of this earlier today, I had a little google and read all about the Roman ritual of Lupercalia, a fertility festival which was celebrated mid February to welcome in spring. Animals would be sacrificed by priests who had to laugh as they were smeared with the blood (for me that's the strangest bit!) then strips of the animals flesh would be torn into februa (probably how the name of our month February came about) and given to boys/men who would then run through the town naked to 'gently strike' women who wanted to conceive. I read another article which said they were whipped - either way I think I'll stick to my chocolate and fizz - but I love reading about these ancient celebrations. In the 5th Century Pope Gelasius decided to stop all the fun and banned the practice of Lupercalia - 14th February would now mark the martyrdom of St. Valentine (of whom there were a few) - a much more chaste celebration for all concerned. 

Well what has this got to do with local British wool? Absolutely nothing!! I just got a bit distracted - so now a bit about out latest yarn Coorie! Corrie was unplanned - I had Mamó back from the mill and had decided that was it for the year; then I got a message from Lucy wanting to know if I needed her Zwartbles fleece. (See below to see pics of Ethel the sheep - Lucy is also a photographer/sheep whisperer!) If not it was going to be sent off to be made into compost (a brilliant organisation in the Lake District - click here to read more). Then a phone call from Lynne - who had finished shearing and had all the Poll Dorset shearling fleeces separated for me if I did want to look at them. Well a little look couldn't hurt....

Kate with arms full of fleece looking. happy

And here I am looking very happy stuffing arms fulls of lovely fleeces into bags! I got back in touch with Lucy to say I would buy the fleeces and decided I wanted to create a really woolly blend that would warm our bones come winter. 70% Poll Dorset with 30% Zwartbles - from farms within a 5 mile radius to our shop in Lancaster. Lucy dropped the wool to our door - I just love those brown fleeces with their caramel sun bleached tips!!! The many breeds of sheep are so interesting because they are all so unique. Knowing and promoting them really helps the farmers who spend their lives looking after them, especially the rare breeds who are endangered. Our native breeds are well tuned in to the environment they live in - helping the land regenerate - these animals help make our local landscape what it is. (Green and beautiful!)

Zwartbles sheep looking at camera         

To retain the bounce of both fibres I wanted a woollen spun yarn and with the smaller quantity (about 75 kilos) I called the Natural Fibre Company who happened to have a slot available for us! It all got sent away and we got little photos to keep us going - I was so eager to see what it looked like - what shade of grey it would be, it's so hard waiting for that new arrival!! It needed blending twice to get an even colour - here it is after blending and before plying, then plied and twisted here in Lancaster! The Natural Fibre company work hard to make sure the impact of their scouring and spinning has the smallest carbon footprint. I check to make sure animals haven't been treated with particular medicine 6 months prior to shearing, so it doesn't affect the waste water going back on to crops, etc. 

blended fleece                          Northern Yarn Coorie with a thistle and glass of Iron Bru

And it is a rustic beauty! Lancashire wool, with a little crunch and loads of character. Around the time the yarn came back to me - a good friend of mine died, we had worked and lived together in London for a few years and I loved her very much. She had moved back to Scotland and I wanted to name the new yarn for her, so when I knitted with it or wore garments made from it, I could think of Fi and it would be like a warm hug from her - Coorie is a Scottish word to cuddle/nestle - and so she was born. We have two weights; worsted and a sport. I've knitted a Widow's Kiss by Thea Colman and Elah cardigan by Isabel Kraemer, it has great stitch definition for cables and lace, a good yarn for structured garments. If you'd like a 15g sample of the yarn with your next order, just pop a comment in the notes, make a swatch and wash it so you can see how it blooms and softens.

I hope you all have a lovely February, keep warm and woolly, 

Kate xxx

 Kate wearing a Widow's Kiss jumper with a cup of tea                   Kate wearing Elah cardigan in Coorie yarn Lancashire wool