Hooters Hall

Posts Tagged ‘handspun yarn’

Fibre Farming and a Shepherding Hat

If you follow Hooters Hall on Facebook or Instagram you will have seen some of my posts talking about transitioning to becoming a fibre farm. When we first started our smallholding journey we planned a mixed smallholding with a focus on raising rare breed pigs and growing herbs to flavour the sausages we would make in our own butchery. We did just that and our pork and sausages proved very popular.

With a need to keep on top of the grass growth in our paddocks we decided to get some sheep about a year or so into our smallholding life. We started with three Jacob ewes and soon added a ram and some more ewes. Now we have a gradually growing flock, bred here at Hooters Hall. Its not all about the wool of course we also have some Angora goats and have bred our Golden Guernsey goats with our Angora Billy to produce goats that shed their fleece. With fibre comes fibre crafts and over the past 5 years I’ve progressed from improving my knitting skills to spinning my own yarn and learning to weave. We’ve also developed our skills in shearing and small scale fibre processing so we can process all the fibre we produce at Hooters Hall.

It reached a point this year when we had to consider the direction we were heading in. With only six acres we have to plan how we can make best use of the land and as most smallholders discover the dream might be to work on your smallholding 24/7 but the reality is that most people have mortgages and that means earning a wage in non smallholding employment especially when you first start . So for a stress free life its important to find a balance between smallholding work and the day job.

For us the life balance is with fibre farming. That doesn’t mean we won’t ever keep pigs and make our own sausages again but it won’t be the main focus of our smallholding. We’ll continue to grow our own veg, herbs and natural dyes but our choices about how we use the land, the buildings we have and the equipment we invest in will be made with the goal of fibre farming rather than mixed smallholding.

So what does fibre farming mean ? There’s a long history of sheep farming in Britain but fibre farming is slightly different. We raise sheep and goats to produce fibre for fibre crafts rather than meat or for selling livestock on to other farmers. Some fibre farms focus on producing commercially popular fleeces and having their fibre spun into yarn at fibre mills.

At Hooters Hall we’re aiming for something slightly different. We want to produce fibre for handspinning, weaving and felting. Our goals aren’t just about fibre production but also fibre crafts. We want to process all our own fibre share our knowledge about small scale fibre processing, inspire people to learn about fibre crafts and develop their own skills in using fibre and creating for themselves.

In the medium to long term that might mean hosting fibre retreats here at Hooters Hall and maybe expanding our fibre processing with investment in mini mill equipment. Right now it means sharing our knowledge about fibre processing, fibre craft projects and selling the fibre from our Jacob sheep and Angora goats.

So with that in mind here’s my latest knitting project the Shepherding Hat. I wanted a simple beanie style hat to wear when I’m doing shepherding tasks. It needed to be a dense fabric to keep those winter winds out, a snug fit so it would stay put when I’m busy shepherding and a quick and easy knit made from my own handspun yarn.

The Hooters Hall Shepherding Hat

What you need

  • 3.5 mm 40cm circular needles
  • 3.5mm double pointed needles
  • 115g of Hooters Hall light dk / Sport Weight handspun yarn
  • Tapestry needle
  • Stitch marker

This pattern is one size for adults. You need to be able to knit in the round, make knit and purl stitches and do a knit 2 together decrease.


K = knit

P= Purl

K1P1 = Knit one Purl one ribbing

K2tog= Knit two stitches together 

The pattern

Cast on 92 sts

K1 P1 and join in the round placing a stitch marker at the start of the round.Continue K1P1 ribbing until your hat measures 11 cm or desired length. (If you make your hat longer you will use more yarn.)

Decrease round K21 K2tog repeat to end of round (88 sts)

Knit all stitches for one round

Crown decrease (decrease 8 sts every other round) switch to double pointed needles when necessary, for me this is usually at round 7.

Round 1.K8 K2tog repeat to end of round (72sts)

Round 2. Knit all stitches

Round 3. K7 K2tog repeat to end of round (64 sts)

Round 4. Knit all stitches

Round 5. K6 K2tog repeat to end of round (56 sts)

Round 6. Knit all stitches

Round 7. K5 K2tog repeat to end of round  (48 sts)

Round 8. Knit all stitches

Round 9. K4 k2tog repeat to end of round (40 sts)

Round 10. Knit all stitches

Round 11. K3 K2tog repeat to end of round (32 sts)

Round 12. Knit all stitches

Round 13. K2 k2tog repeat to end of round (24 sts)

Round 14. Knit all stitches

Round 15. K1 k2tog repeat to end of round (16 sts)

Round 16. Knit all stitches

Round 17. K2tog (8 sts)

Break yarn and using tapestry needle pull yarn through remaining stitches.

Weave in ends.

Block. Dunk your hat in warm water. Remove and roll up in a dry towel. Place over a balloon or head sized object and leave to dry.

This picture sums up what our fibre farm will be about the sheep, the yarn and the craft


Hooters Hall Handspun Infinity Scarf Knitting Pattern

If you fancy a super speedy knit using our Hooters Hall handspun yarn this infinity scarf is the pattern for you.

What you need.

100g bulky weight Hooters Hall handspun yarn. The pictures show a scarf knitted using our Fenland Mist bulky weight yarn.

10mm (US size 15) knitting needles

Pins and a towel or blocking mats

Tapestry or weaving needle

How to make it.

Leave a tail of about 18cm of yarn and cast on 5 stitches.

Knit every row. Don’t knit too tightly or you will struggle to move the yarn along the needle.

Cast off when you get to the end of the ball of yarn. Remember to leave enough yarn for your casting off. If you misjudge it just undo a couple of rows and try again.

Block your scarf. Fill a sink or bowl with warm water. Put your scarf in the water for a few seconds holding it under the water. Remove and roll up your scarf in a dry towel. Give it a quick squeeze.

Lay your scarf on another towel or blocking mats. Pin at one end and work your way along the scarf gently stretching it out and pinning as you go.

Once you’ve finished it should be at least 1m in length. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bit longer. Leave to dry for a few days.

Sewing Up

Fold your scarf in half so it in a V shape like this

Fold the ends inwards so they line up with each other like this

Your scarf should look like this

With a tapestry or weaving needle sew the two ends together using mattress stitch. You can use the long tail of yarn from your cast on edge. Alternatively you could use a different yarn but you will need to tie it to a stitch on  the edge of your scarf first.

That’s it. Your scarf should look like this. You can wear it as a single loop or twist and loop it around your neck twice.



Happy Knitting

Hooters Hall 2014

For Hooters Hall 2014 was very much the year of the goat. We expanded our herd of angoras and also added some British Guernseys. We also had our first Hooters Hall born kid little Molly.  Sadly we lost the lovely Sugar (one of our Guernseys) but her daughter Spice is doing well and is hopefully pregnant. Here’s Molly 20 minutes after she was born and a few days later meeting Bran one of our farm cats.

Molly wasn’t the only newborn at Hooters Hall. The ducks managed to successfully hatch some eggs and we now have 10 ducks instead of 2. The new ducklings also have some stylish quiffs.

We had a sucessful lambing with our Jacobs and our Jacob fleece is proving very popular with spinners and fibre artists. Here are some of the 2014 lambs and some pictures of fleece hand processed into rolags for spinning, handspun yarn and a hand knitted scarf. The natural colours of the Jacob fleece make a beautiful fabric.

Our rare breed, 100% Gloucestershire Old Spot sausages and burgers were really popular this year and we sold out really quickly ( we’ll have more in the farm shop around April). To keep up with demand we’ve started breeding our own Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs. We have two sows Beatrice and Eugenie. After a visit from Mr Boar Beatrice had her first litter at the end of October and we’ve just weaned the piglets. Here they are having a nap.

Our plans for 2015 include more fibre craft. We’re going to be experimenting with dying our mohair with natural dyes from British native plants grown at Hooters Hall, selling both the dyed fleece and the dye plants in the farm shop. If Spice the Guernsey is pregnant we’ll hopefully have some interesting fleece from her kid. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a fleece with the golden colour of the Guernsey but fibre quality of the Angora.

There will be more 100% Gloucestershire Old Spot pork sausages and burgers all handmade at Hooters Hall and maybe some hams as well. We made some glazed and smoked ham for ourselves this Christmas and it was delicious.

If Spice the Guernsey does have a kid we’ll also have goat milk and will try making some goats cheese.

We’ve got a bit of a change of direction for the polytunnel planned in 2015. We’ve spent the last few weeks planting a variety of fruit trees and soft fruits and we’ll be adding more grapes as well. As well as lots of delicious fruit I’m planning on using parts of the fruit trees, soft fruit as natural dyes for our mohair.

You can keep up to date with Hooters Hall and see lots of pictures of the goats, pigs, ducklings, horses & chickens on our  facebook page www.facebook.com/HootersHall

You can also find HootersHall on instagram and Twitter.