The Nude Ewe is selling knitting wool spun from heritage sheep breeds that graze wildflower rich grasslands in Bedfordshire in a bid to make conservation grazing more economically viable for the county’s graziers
Grasslands are a key feature of the English countryside - for centuries these habitats have been maintained by grazing sheep and other livestock. Without these animals our fields would turn to scrub, and we would lose the unique plants and animals that rely on our grasslands.
The best sheep for conservation grazing are heritage breeds. These ancient breeds are very hardy and can handle adverse weather conditions. They will eat rough grasses, twigs and bramble that modern breeds won't touch. This keeps the scrub from taking over. Unlike modern breeds however, heritage breeds tend to be small and slow growing, many produce excellent meat and fleece but because they grow slowly are not used commercially. Sadly many of these breeds are now disappearing and some are close to extinction.
Sheep must be sheared every year. This costs farmers money, and the fleeces themselves are worth very little. It also costs money to repair fences, maintain shelters and deliver medical treatment. The Nude Ewe project turns this ‘waste’ fleece into a marketable product by spinning it into yarn to be sold. Proceeds from the sale of the yarn are returned to the grazier. In this way the Nude Ewe hopes to encourage more people to use heritage sheep breeds to graze Bedfordshire's grasslands for nature conservation.
All the yarn is 100% pure, undyed wool just the way the sheep made it. Yarn is available for £4.50 per 50g ball or £9 per 100g hank.
Knitting kits – complete with pattern, needles and wool to make wrist warmers, hat, teddy bear, two scarves, shoulder cosy and bag – are also available and make a fantastic present.
The Nude Ewe, which is a Community Interest Company, is supported and partnered by the Wildlife Trust.
For more information about the project, the range of yarns and knit kits available for purchase, visit the Nude Ewe website