What do you charge for p&p?

P&P charges are based on weight, with allowance for packaging costs. The shop will automatically add up the weight of the items in your basket and charge accordingly.

Can I wash my finished item?

We recommend you hand wash only. Always use a detergent sold especially for use with wool and silk. If the water is too hot for your bare hand, it is too hot for the yarn. Never rub the yarn and avoid agitating, just let it soak in warm water with detergent for about 10 minutes (unless manufacturer’s instructions advise otherwise).

To rinse, let the garment soak and keep changing the water until the water runs clear, usually 3 or 4 times.

Don’t wring the garment and avoid lifting it up by one part when wet as the weight of the water will stretch the item out of shape. When taking your garment from the water make sure it is fully supported, just squeeze gently.

Avoid dramatic changes in the temperature of the water, be especially careful in winter when the water direct from the cold tap can be very cold, if you wash in warm water then plunge your garment into very cold rinsing water there is a risk of felting.

Select a gentle spin cycle, place your garment into a net bag or old pillow case to keep it safe. Please reshape your garment while damp and dry flat to prevent stretching.

How do I protect my yarn/garment from moth attack?

All natural animal fibres are vulnerable to moth attack. You need to check your yarn/garment periodically, get it out and give it a shake. If you are going to store your yarn/garment for a length of time we recommend sealing it in a plastic or cotton bag. Moths can get through a small space, so if you use a plastic bag, make sure it doesn’t have any holes, many plastic bags have holes to prevent suffocation, you can seal these with tape.

Always make sure your yarn/garment is clean before storing as moths are more likely to attack a dirty or sweaty garment.

Moths are sensitive to strong smells so you can use natural sachets of herbs or chemical moth strips, these deterrents will need replacing every so often, check the manufacturer’s instructions. For more information on moths please see the Rentokil website.

How do I know which knitting needle size to use with handspun yarn?

The usually rule of thumb is to use a knitting needle twice the thickness of the yarn. If you have a normal needle gauge you can pop the doubled over yarn through the holes on the gauge, if the yarn fits comfortably in the hole that will be the needle size to try.

Do knit a tension square first to check you have the best size and adjust as necessary: if your tension square is too tight use a larger needle, if the square is too loose, use a smaller needle.

Why are sheep shorn? What would happen if you didn’t shear a sheep?

Sheep are usually shorn annually. If a sheep was left unshorn the fleece would grow and grow, becoming matted and heavy. Most sheep are unable to shed their fleece naturally (alpacas and angora goats have the same problem).

Left unshorn, the sheep would experience all sorts of difficulties. In the summer unshorn sheep can get heat stroke and even die. Sheep are also prone to flystrike where flies lay their eggs on the sheep, when the eggs hatch out into maggots, the maggots eat the sheep alive. Flystrike causes terrible suffering and death if left untreated. Shearing helps protect sheep from flystrike.

Primitive sheep naturally dropped their wool much like a dog moulting. Wool used to be extremely valuable before manmade fibre had been invented, therefore people didn’t like their valuable wool dropping out all over the place. As a result humans bred sheep so that they would retain their wool and the fleece could be harvested all in one go.

Primitive breeds of sheep still exist today which do not need shearing, for example the Icelandic sheep and the Soay.

How much wool does one sheep produce?

It depends on the sheep. Sheep come in many different sizes but as a general guide a raw fleece can weigh from 1.5kg to 5kg. However not all of this wool will be suitable for spinning. Also, some of that weight will be dirt and lanolin, when the fleece is washed it will become considerably lighter.

Does shearing hurt sheep?

No, not if it is done properly. Being shorn is rather like having a haircut. Sheep are shorn using a set pattern, if the sheep is uncomfortable during shearing it will wriggle and make the job a great deal harder for the shearer, therefore the way the sheep is held during shearing is designed to make the sheep as comfortable as possible.

An experienced shearer can shear an adult sheep in 1-2 minutes, elite shearers can complete a sheep in under 1 minute. At these speeds the sheep doesn’t have time to worry about what’s happening.

Inevitably, sheep are sometimes nicked during shearing, this is not usually serious, it is similar to a shaving cut. In shearing competitions, the sheep are examined after they have been shorn by the judges and any skin cuts are penalised.

Sheep shearing is an extremely difficult highly skilled activity, to avoid injury to sheep or shearer, shearing should only be attempted by or under the supervision of a trained shearer.

You can get information on sheep shearing courses from the British Wool Marketing Board.

Do sheep get cold when they have been shorn?

The usual practice is to shear sheep only once the weather is warm enough. Sheep are social animals and if they do feel a bit chilly the first night they are not afraid to huddle up! There should also be a sheltered place in their field.

Sheep do not need a full year’s growth of fleece to insulate them, soon after shearing they will have grown enough wool to keep them warm if the weather deteriorates.

Where can I find out more about shearing?

The British Wool Marketing Board runs shearing courses and produces educational resources.

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