Farm business spins yarn around wool
A frustration with poor wool prices and lack of education about wool has led to an innovative farm business venture. Lumsden based farmers Andrea and Chris Bulleid hope that their business – The Sheep’s Back knitting kits – will inspire children to appreciate wool and educate about where wool comes from, how it’s harvested and what makes it an important fibre.
The business venture was started approximately a year ago and there has been a lot of interest from the general public and schools purchasing kits for classroom use. Each kit contains wool spun from their own sheep, knitting needles, instructions, a measuring tape and sewing up needle.
The kits also include a booklet about sheep farming in New Zealand and the journey of wool from sheep to yarn.“Knitting is an awesome way to promote wool,” says Andrea. “Both boys and girls have responded well.”
Andrea started selling their kits at A & P shows and it was when a teacher expressed interest in the kits for her class that they decided to try and get the kits into more school rooms. They trialled the kits at Hawea Flat School and Balfour School with great success and are now seeking people or businesses who may want to sponsor kits for schools.
She says knitting is good for mental health, cognitive function and helps move children away from digital devices to a hands on craft.“I learnt to knit as a child, taught by Mum. For me it’s a way to switch off and calm my body and brain. I have taught our children to knit and they use it in the same manner.”
The Sheep’s Back also sells natural dye kits with a foraging guide with seasonal reference as materials such as leaves, flowers, bark and lichen can be used to colour wool. Andrea believes this helps to encourage children to get outside and get familiar with botany, observing what is available in their environment and what is in season.
The couple say the kits are evidence of their love of wool and it’s many uses. For example at the moment with wool prices low they are using any low grade wool and dags as mulch around newly planted trees to suppress weeds and slowly feed the trees. The Sheep’s Back kits are available from www.thesheepsback.co.nz.
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