Tag Archives: yorkshire

faces and places: melanie hodgson

Part of a series introducing some of the places and people we’ve come across since moving to Scotland. Some you may already know but, more often than not, they will be new to you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do…

Mel, Flamborough Head

Mel, Flamborough Head

Mel and I met through a few years ago through a lovely Melbourne friend who kept insisting that we’d get along beautifully because of our mutual appreciation for woolly wools. Turns out we have a lot of other things in common but fibre is definitely at the core of our friendship!

Mel is a Yorkshire lass who has recently moved back there after nine hot summers in Australia and she is as happy as can be to be back in her homeland! I think what I appreciate most about Mel is her commitment to integrity. She really gives herself 100% to whatever she is doing, whether that is baking sourdough, growing food plants, caring for her patients at work or working with fibre and yarn: it’s all or nothing and she gives her whole heart. I’ve been very fortunate to be on the receiving end of her care, both in helping me get my bearings and in finding wonderful, interesting people and movements happening here in the UK and I will be forever grateful for her care and support.

Not only does Mel knit very lovely things for herself, her loved ones and her home, she also prepares and spins her own fibre and yarn… Being a Yorkshire girl at heart, she has a strong affinity for local sheep breeds and has sourced fibre from all kinds of British and/ or rare and conservation breeds, like Masham, Swaledale and Whitefaced Woodland and, by blending fibres and colours to create tops, she spins the most lovely, heathered, tweedy yarns.

She combs or cards fibres….

Raw, combed fibre

Combed Jacob fibre

Whitefaced Woodland and coloured merino tops

Whitefaced Woodland and coloured merino

… and spins them into heavenly yarn…

Bluefaced Leicester

Bluefaced Leicester, with the most incredible lustre and definition

Yarn

Squishy Shetland

Pure angora yarn

Pure, spindle-spun angora yarn in all its fuzzy glory

Odds and ends, Navajo-plied

Odds and ends of singles plied into a beautiful, random yarn

… which she then knits into beautiful, sturdy, cosy knits that are all about enveloping and making one feel loved and held, the way Mel herself does.

Gradient-spun sock

Gradient-spun socks from Bluefaced Leicester fibre, dyed by the Thylacine, Tasmania

Mel's Follow Your Arrow in North Ronaldsay 4ply

Detail from Mel’s Follow Your Arrow in North Ronaldsay 4ply

Compared to Mel, I’m not much of a spinner, but I think that common grounding helps us really get each other and the way we see and feel fibre!  We certainly agree that fibre dyed in the fleece and then blended before spinning results in the most beautiful yarns and hope to one day collaborate in making yarn…

In the meantime, we’ve got Shetland Wool Week to look forward to, plus some dyeing with the avocado skins that Mel’s been stashing in her freezer for months (did I mention her dedication?!) and plenty of other adventure planned. I can’t wait!

(I wish I had more photos of her finished knits but my camera lens broke while I was visiting and photographing her work and so these are all I have for you- but do go and find Mel and her knits on Ravelry and at recipeforayarn)

faces and places: (london and) yorkshire

One of a series of posts introducing some of the places and people we’ve come across since moving to Scotland. Some you may already know but, more often than not, they will be new to you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do…

I was lucky enough to make a trip down into England last week to catch up with two great friends last week… I first flew to London to spend a brief but very lovely twenty-four hours with Felicia, of which I have no photos at all to show you- but there was lots of walking, talking and hatching plans, as well as dinner with old and new friends! Felicia is full of excitement and enthusiasm about life and so the time we shared was a real treat for me- although I’m getting to know some great women here, I spend quite a lot of time working at home and so I treasure time spent with people I can talk to about my crappy day or ideas I have and who I know will both listen and be honest in their response- that kind of friendship takes time! Thank you Fel!

I then headed up to Yorkshire to spend a few days with local lass, Mel, who I’d met in Melbourne  during the nine years she spent living there with her family. She escaped the Australian heat last year and has now happily resettled in Yorkshire, albeit with perennial itchy feet- but more on that in a coming post! First stop was baa ram ewe, a yarn shop I’ve heard about for years, mostly for Titus, their beautiful 4ply yarn made from a classic Yorkshire blend of Wensleydale/ Bluefaced Leicester/ alpaca yarn that is soon to be joined by their new Dovestone DK (with Yorkshire breed Masham in place of alpaca). It was lovely to see and feel Titus in the flesh and especially in their sweet in-house kits:

Ella Austin's Dashing Dachshund

Ella Austin’s Dashing Dachshund

Little Fella, inspired by the work of L.S.Lowry

Little Fella, inspired by the work of L.S.Lowry

These women know their yarn and their community well. Their range is almost entirely British in origin and covers all the bases from rustic (the first shop I’ve seen to carry both Jamieson and J&S!) to luxury (Toft, Rowan), as well as patterns and books from independent and more well-known local designers. It was a real pleasure to spend an hour or two there, chatting about yarns and the industry, and it made me hanker a little for my time at Sunspun!

New Lanark Chunky

New Lanark Chunky

Jamieson's Aran Heather in Broch

Jamieson’s Aran Heather in Broch- I’ll definitely be bringing some of this home from Shetland!

After a day pottering about Mel’s house (seeing more of her heavenly handspun yarns, trying  gooseberry cake and samphire for the first time and just hanging out and knitting), we left early in the morning for Edinburgh. I’d mentioned a while ago that I was reading up on British fisherman’s knits for a new class and Mel very enthusiastically and generously said that we must drive back to Scotland via Flamborough on the Yorkshire coast, a place known for both its incredible natural beauty and its fisherman’s ganseys…

We didn’t have long there but we soaked up so much beauty. This is a place for wandering the beaches in bare feet and lying amongst the grasses and watching the seabirds wheeling and the clouds floating by… if there are any.

Flamborough Heads

Flamborough Heads

Flamborough Heads

Flamborough Heads

Blowhole

Blowhole

Flamborough Heads

Flamborough Heads

Flamborough Head

Flamborough Head

Flamborough Heads

Flamborough Heads

Sea pinks

Sea pinks (Armeria maritima)

Some species of Chamomile?

A species of Chamomile?

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Unfortunately my camera lens broke on the trip so I have virtually no photos of the small gansey museum and shop that we visited but it was a joy to visit and to see some old and new ganseys- such exquisite work and some myths dispelled and others affirmed so well worth a visit if you’re in the area…

Flamborough Gansey

Flamborough Gansey

Flamborough Gansey

Flamborough Gansey

We then zipped up the coast, stopping at the lovely fishing village of Whitby for the best fish and chips I’ve had in years (not sure about the mushy peas though…) and a quick peek at the magnificent cathedral and jet jewellery, before heading on to Edinburgh. It was a magical day and end to the trip!

Thank you both so much both, Felicia and Mel- I’m lucky to have such lovely friends!