Shepherding the lost sheep

IMGP6811

Chrissy and one of her many spinning wheels

Unlike Little Bo Peep’s sheep, which would, apparently, return home of their own accord ‘wagging their tails behind them’, most sheep need a shepherd – someone to guide then, nurture them, heft them and ensure their well-being. Sadly, it appears that many farmers and shepherds could, themselves, also do with such care and attention… and so, I’d like to introduce you to Chrissy Smith, an amazing woman doing her bit to help the sheep farmers of Wales.

Interested in Welsh sheep breeds and discovering a few years ago that their wool was not really being understood and effectively marketed by the farmers who produced it, Chrissy decided to take action. So, she established The Lost Sheep Company. By understanding the properties of the wool of different Welsh sheep breeds, farmers can appreciate the value of what they produce and consumers can select wool that will do the job they want. So Chrissy is on a mission to get everyone (producers and users) to appreciate the value of wool, especially wool from the traditional Welsh breeds: Balwen, Beulah Speckled Face, Black Welsh Mountain, Jacob, Kerry Hill, Llanwenog, Lleyn, Ryeland and Welsh Mule.

On her web site, Chrissy provides a wealth of information, from how to roll a fleece, to the characteristics of wool from the different breeds. In her shop (well, heritage craft centre really) in Colwyn Bay she sells fleeces, hand spun yarn and equipment, restores old spinning wheels and runs and hosts classes. She buys fleeces from local farmers for ten times the price that the wool marketing board pays (which is often just pennies per kilo), processes them in a couple of old twin tub washing machines and works her magic with natural dyes.

In 2017 Chrissy was involved in reviving the tradition of the Conwy Wool Fair and she’s hoping to make this an annual event.  In fact, what she’s seeking to do is to re-introduce the traditional Wool Charter Market in Conwy – the right, granted by royal charter, to close off the streets and hold a market to trade wool once a year. Apparently, she’s got Prince Charles on the case trying to track down the original charter. Now wouldn’t that be an event worth going to?

We met Chrissy during the Knit for Peace Wool Hunt weekend and, for me, visiting her shop and hearing about her work was one of the highlights. I am always inspired by people who see a problem and take action, and you don’t get more active than this. If you are ever in north Wales, The Lost Sheep Company is really worth a visit.

Previous Post
Leave a comment

12 Comments

  1. I’d be totally unable to resist that shop, and I don’t even knit! I love that she’s an intermediary or channel between the farmers and their end users and giving them a more respectable price for their fleeces, and promotes understanding of just what it takes to produce wool.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. Everybody needs a champion, and Welsh sheep and farmers certainly have it in Chrissy. What a woman! Her she looks like a magical cave for those of us who love yarns.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  3. What a heroine! Quite apart from giving farmers a better price for their fleeced I would bet that her interest and her valuing of what they do raised morale. Given that farming is a stressful and often lonely job that is priceless.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  4. I hadn’t come across this lady but I will certainly check her out. It’s almost criminal that farmers are paid so.little for their fleeces – but I suppose this is just another symptom of the but it cheap and Chuck it mentality. Thankfully people are waking up to the need for sustainability.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  5. What a fascinating place – and woman. I would definitely go and visit if I lived nearby but I’d wait until Summer as it doesn’t look as if there’s any heating on judging by the way everybody is wrapped up in coats and scarves

    Like

    Reply
  6. That’s amazing! I’m definitely adding this to my visit-one-day list. What a wonderful thing to do for the farmers 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  7. Well three cheers for this lady- maybe you could write a little letter about her efforts to Countryfile- maybe she could be one of their farming heros?

    Like

    Reply
  8. Murtagh's Meadow

     /  May 21, 2019

    Fascinating.

    Like

    Reply
  9. I’ve just found this post whilst looking for info on how to ply wool. This shop looks absolutely great – perhaps I can plan a meet up with my sister there en route to the Centre for Alternative Technology, next time I go there.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  10. That sounds great! Let me know when you intend to come and I can make sure there is cake! You can combine a visit with some classes if you like.

    Chrissy x

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Helen Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: