NEWS FROM EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK
A new local venture was given a flying start at a well-attended launch of the Exmoor Horn Wool company hosted by the National Park Centre in Dunster recently. The project, supported by the Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund, is a culmination of two years of hard work by a handful of Exmoor sheep farmers determined to find a way to add value to the fine fleeces produced by the indigenous Exmoor Horn sheep.
On display was the full range of dyed wool for knitting, in five colours that reflected the Exmoor landscape such as purple for heather, yellow for gorse, and a range of socks in a variety of colour combinations, each one unique to a particular village on Exmoor. The knee length socks are designed as shooting socks, but are also perfect as wellie socks or, as one satisfied purchaser pointed out, golfing socks.
Brian Buckingham, an Exmoor Horn breeder for over 40 years, and now chairman of the Exmoor Horn Wool company, is very enthusiastic about the new enterprise, “So many of the towns and villages in the South West were built on the back of wool production, even our launch took place only a few yards from the old Dunster yarn market building, so it is great to see sheep farmers once again restoring that link between their sheep and the final wool product – and what a fine wool product it is.
“Thanks to their wool our Exmoor Horns can withstand days of blizzard out on the moor, so what better wool could there be to knit into warm outer garments such as jumpers and scarfs?”
Exmoor Horn wool project leader Lindy Head added: “The two years it has taken to get to the final product range has been an incredibly steep learning curve. With the help and guidance of John Arbon Textiles and the Wool Board, all those involved, including the Exmoor Horn Wool board, its shareholder farmers, and the Exmoor Horn Sheep Breeders Society, have had to get to grips with the intricacies of the spinning process – from deciding on yarn specifications to fibre conditioning techniques, the challenge of getting the colour mix right, and understanding the working methods of the traditional sock manufacturing industry.
“Then there has been the digital marketing element, a vital component for any new company, but not something Exmoor sheep farmers normally have to handle. I’m now delighted to say that a website, www.exmoorhornwool.co.uk, is up and running and we are hoping that lots of people will support the new venture.”
PS: The project has been part funded through the Exmoor National Park Authority Partnership fund, at 39%, and the rest of the funding has been supplied by the Exmoor Horn Sheep Breeders Society and individual Exmoor farmers.
To order wool and/or socks, please go to www.exmoorhornwool.co.uk