I grew up in a very leafy corner of (Ex) West – Berlin with a big love for pretty much any animal (although there are moments when I am less fond of mosquitos). My primary school teacher was of the old – fashioned sort that believed in preparing for life. We all learned to sew buttons, cross stitch, darn, crochet and knit. From then onwards I have been a keen knitter who learned some things the hard way; i.e. by making mistakes.
When the time came for picking my Abitur subjects Biology was a given. And with the course we went to an excursion at the Gruene Woche. The animal hall is always themed, and during that particular year the theme was sheep. I was riveted. So much so that on coming home I asked my father to get me in touch with the local shepherds from his hometown in Hessen. Off I went and got some training in how to keep sheep and look after flocks. I spend as much time as I could with them. The dogs they used were German Shepherds and some Rough Collies. Then I saw a Border Collie at a demonstration and was smitten. But I had to wait as a busy student’s life in a 6th floor flat wasn’t the time or place to keep one.
Several years later I moved to the Uk to join my British partner and started working as a Biologist. And I started spinning in earnest – another childhood fascination when I first got taught by my godmother’s mother! A few years ago, Michael and I decided that we finally would get our dog, never mind living in South Kensington. We got an amazing little dog from Mark Banham at Shabden Park Farm who turned out to be a very keen, strong dog who challenges me every time I work him. It’s a very steep but rewarding learning curve for me. After about two years I began to take lessons with Sarah Jenkins at Mayfields Farm to get a better handle and understanding of Floyd.
When helping with the dogs one day I noticed that they had sheep wool for bedding in the kennels. When I asked Sarah about it she replied that the wool price was so low that already the shearing costs more than she would get for the wool, and that quite a lot of her fleeces couldn’t be sold at all as there was no demand for coloured wool from rare breeds (apart from a few hand spinners, of course). I pondered about that for a while, and after a few month decided that I would take Sarah’s output the following year and see whether I could promote the wool and turn my crafting into a business. After all, I know where the sheep have come from, how they are bred, kept, worked, treated and sheared.