On Susan’s arrival at Monkley Ghyll, a small farm nestled in the Lancashire hills, just over 3 years ago, she was already determined to create a truly local yarn, with genuine provenance and using the only truly indigenous Lancashire sheep – the Lonk. Known as the Sovereign of the Moors, this majestic, horned sheep has lived on the open moorlands of Lancashire since around the 13th century. Ideally suited to its environment it is a strong, hardy sheep able to survive on the poorest of land. Its stunning white fleece protects it against the harshest of winds, rain and snow. Its fleece now primarily found only in carpets, used to be highly sought after and until the 1930s was used widely within hand knitting yarns.
Susan began her search for a local Lonk breeder three years ago and just over two years ago met farmer Jeffrey, who farms 400 acres of moorland on the slopes of Clougha Pike directly across the Lune Valley from Susan’s farm and visible from her kitchen window. Jeffrey, now 70, bought his first Lonk sheep at the age of 7 and has been breeding them ever since. Trained to grade fleeces to wool board standards by his uncle, he has constantly aimed to produce the best fleeces he possibly can, selectively breeding for wool quality. No chemicals or sprays are used on the fleeces to further ensure their condition.
When Jeffrey and Susan first met, their shared love of wool sparked a lasting friendship and Jeffrey agreed to allow Susan to purchase his best shearling fleeces each year in order to create a knitting wool. Despite always breeding for the highest quality fleeces he could, Jeffrey had never seen Lonk wool or seen his own fleeces spun.
Due to life threatening illness, Susan’s plans were almost thwarted but despite this she arranged to send the first batch of shearling fleeces from the 2016 clip to be spun to her precise instructions and exacting standards. On its return Susan decided the yarn should be used for a highly personal and significant charity fund raising project to mark the completion of her treatment for cancer and with that in mind, asked four of the UK’s best hand dyers to each produce an exclusive colourway using the Lonk yarn for its initial launch in October 2017. The kit containing two skeins of this unique and special yarn can be purchased here.