1 October 2014
In the North West of England lies Eden District, in the Lakes. It's a working landscape where one fell (mountain) can mean isolation from the next and farmers have been raising Herdwick sheep here for more than 800 years.
Thought to be descended from Viking stock, Herdwick are aptly suited to their home. They're hardy, with white faces and strong fleece ranging in color from dark cocoa to silver. Mary Bell has run Crookabeck Farm for 25 years. The care she takes in the work is felt in every fibre. For this project, we are using Crookabeck's Herdwick Hog Wool, which is the sheep's dark first fleece.
This trivet requires no knowledge of knitting or crochet and is made simply by sewing together several braided (plaited) lengths of wool. Applying weight at intervals helps keep the trivet flat and, with use, the sturdy yarn will slowly felt.
- 40 g (1.4 oz) Crookabeck Herdwick Hog Wool
- Tapestry needle
- A heavy pan/something heavy
Cut three lengths of wool, each 6' 11" (210 cm). Knot together close to the end, trim off the excess and tape to a surface. Braid (plait) the entire length (you may find the threads tangle, so this is easier to do standing up, untangling the threads with each pass). Repeat this step until you have three long plaits. Make sure the excess is trimmed from the knots at both ends.
Thread your tapestry needle with a manageable length of Hog Wool. Start to coil up the end of a plait to form a spiral with the wide sides touching. As you go, sew each layer of plait on to the last. Don't pull it tight and keep the stitches roughly alternate.
You may start to notice that your trivet is becoming a bowl - this is normal. When the first thread runs out, heat a heavy pan and place it on the trivet to flatten it (for a few hours at least). You can place some weights inside the pan to make it heavier.
Thread up your needle again and carry on sewing, but from the other way around. Alternating the direction of the stitch helps even out the tension, preventing the bowl problem. When you need to add on the next plait, just add a few extra stitches to secure the join. Continue to flatten with a hot, weighted pan each time you need to re-thread your needle.
When you're almost at the end of your third plait, take the last 8-9 cm and loop it back under itself. Secure it there with one or two stitches.
Make the loop stand perpendicular to the circle's edge by adding three stitches either side and two through the loop's center. Secure your thread and trim off the excess.