A Visit to Dodgson Wood

A Visit to Dodgson Wood

Hi friends, and happy Monday!

Last week I had the chance to go along with Kate from Northern Yarn to Dodgson Wood, a beautiful farm in Cumbria where John and Maria raise rare breed cattle and sheep, practice conservation grazing, run off grid accommodation, and produce gorgeous soaps (from the milk of their Jersey cow) and, of course, wool! Beautiful, single farm, breed specific yarns — what could be better?

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A Teeswater ewe

The farm, which John’s family has been farming on for six (!!) generations, is nestled in Cumbria at the bottom of the Lower Lakes.  We’d actually put our trip off for a week because of the “Beast from the East” and the forecast for last Tuesday looked like it might be a bit gray — so we were pleasantly surprised with sun and blue skies (but you can see the snow-capped fells in the distance!)  When you pull up to the farm, you’re greeted with the happy sound of clucking chickens and ducks, as well as some geese who keep a careful guard of the farm and a watchful eye on the road for new comers!

Guard geese!

Maria and John keep a variety of sheep, including Cheviots, several of which are rare breed , like fiesty horned Castlemilk Moorits (they have a fascinating history that you can read about here) and the long wooled Teewasters:

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This little one isn’t a pedigree Castlemilk Moorit because of the unusual markings on its face, but I love how still and regal it looks — almost like it new I was taking a picture!

A Teeswater looks on behind!

When we arrived last week, lambing and calving season was already in full swing (another reason it was extra nice of John and Maria to spend time showing us the farm!) Ewes pregnant with a single lamb, and ewes who have already given birth to just one were out in the fields.  Kate and I got to go out to the field with Maria while she gave the flock some extra food and checked for any new arrivals!

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Maria feeds the flock — they know where their bread is buttered!

No new lambs in the field (Maria actually told us that the ewes almost seem to prefer lambing on rainy, wet days, rather than when the sun’s out) but we did get to see two little lambs frolicking in the field and playing a game that involved lots of headbutting!

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Look at that little lamb go!
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Lambies playing!

Maria and John also have a small but growing flock of Teeswater sheep, a rare breed long wool sheep.  In fact, their flock is growing as we speak — when we were there, we got to have a peek at two sets of Teeswater twin lambs that had been born that week!  Twins and their moms, as well as ewes expecting twins, had been moved into the ewe “maternity ward” where Maria and John can keep an extra eye on them, making sure they get on all right and that the mothers are taking care of both lambs (sometimes, the ewes prefer one lamb over the other and some intervention is needed to make sure both lambs get enough food!)  I love the distinctive, long curly locks of the Teeswater — and the little lambs’ new coats of tight curls were so sweet!

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Maria even let us give the lambs a little cuddle …. and oh my goodness, holding a days-old lamb certainly does the heart good!

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Kate and a little Teeswater!
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So happy!

Look at that face!

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Spending a few hours up at the farm, I was so struck by the beauty of the place (it really is breathtaking) but also what an awful lot of work it takes!  John and Maria wear so many hats.  It’s very clear how much they care about all their livestock, and what a lot of work they are — Maria had been up every two hours the night before we came checking on the pregnant cows and ewes; they’d both been up in the middle of the night because a Belted Galloway cow had given birth to her calf up against the railing of her pen — the force of her labor had pushed the little calf through the pen’s rails and separated the two, so they’d had to get the calf back in it’s mother’s pen (mother and calf were both doing very well when we arrived).  They get their gorgeous wool spun into yarn, sell meat and some of the livestock, run off grid accommodation, and Maria’s also making the most glorious Jersey milk soaps … she sent us home with some, and I’ve been loving the one I’ve been using on my hands!

It was so inspiring to see two people so passionate about what they do, pursuing so many creative ventures on their farm.  My only regret is that I didn’t take more pictures of the farmhouse, cows, chickens — I was so interested in hearing more about the farm (and, let’s be honest, cooing over the lambs)  that I wasn’t as handy with my camera as I would have liked!  But then again, there’s only so much you can capture in a photo. The overwhelming vitality of the farm — the lambs and ewes happily bleating to each other; the sound of pregnant ewes snuffling up their food; the chickens that boldly darted anywhere and everywhere in the farmyard, scampering through the legs of cows; and all the hard work happening on the farm — I suspect that even had I taken 1,000 pictures, some things just can’t be captured.

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A gorgeous Castlemilk Moorit sheepskin that came home with me!

I came home happy and now have a freezer full of meat that I know I can feel good about eating, a sheepskin that is so soft I move it from room to room to sit with, and a renewed desire to cast on with some of the beautiful Shear Delight yarn that comes from the farm. I’ve had my eye on Dodgson Wood yarn since my very first visit to Northern Yarn and getting to know John and Maria a bit and seeing their happy sheep has made me want to knit with their beautiful yarn all the more.  I’m thinking an Incunabula out of one of their DK blends or maybe trying out a two-color version of Kate Davies’ gorgeous new Myrtle in their Teeswater lace. And I’ve also been contemplating a pair of Otrera Mitts in their Cheviot first shear DK.  So many knits, so little time!

Dodgson Wood have an online shop where you can shop for all their different farm produce, from meats, to their Soap Dairy soaps, and their Shear Delight yarn and sheep-related products!  And if you’re in Lancaster, you can see the yarn and soap in person at Northern Yarn!


Such a big thanks to Kate from Northern Yarn for inviting me along and for John and Maria for being so generous with their time, especially given the busy-ness of spring on the farm! I love this picture of the two of them with one of their new lambs — I think it really captures the love they have for what they do!

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Alright, I better go get packing for EYF! If all goes according to plan, I’m going try to pop in here with little daily photo updates if you’d like to follow along!

Hope your week is off to a great start!  xo K




Finished Objects!: Edina & Carbeth

Hi friends, and happy Sunday!

How’s your weekend been?  As I find is usually the case, this one has flown by — but all filled with good things!

I’m particularly excited because today, I have not one, but TWO sweaters/jumpers (depending on who you ask!) to share with you, both of which I finished as February came to a close.  So I’m very happy, as two is literally half the number of sweaters I knit last year — having these two off the needles hopefully augurs well for my plans to focus on garment knitting this year!

So first is up is what I’m calling my Edina sweater, as I knit it along with Kate and her friend Sharon for Edinburgh Yarn Festival.  It’s the Stasis Pullover by Leila Raabe.


Continue reading “Finished Objects!: Edina & Carbeth”

Once Upon a Sock: March Edition

It’s that time again!  The first Thursday of the month: time to talk socks.

Sock knitting has again been thin on the ground since my last post, but after a big sweater finishing spree this weekend, I did put in some time on my Lumineux earlier this week.  The second leg is now one repeat shy of being done, and then it’ll be time to put in the afterthought heels.  The pattern suggests you put in the scrap yarn for the afterthought heel, knit just a bit, and go ahead and work your heel so you can try the foot on so you can get the length just right.  Once I do the heels, I think I’ll knit the remainder of the feet two at a time — variety’s the spice of life, right?

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I’ve blogged about these before but as a quick reminder (or if you’re just joining us …) the pattern’s Lumineux by Ysolda Teague, knit in Countess Ablaze sock yarn with a bit of sparkle!

I’ve also made a little progress on the vanilla English Rose socks I mentioned last week — I love that they match the tulips we got this week:

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When I was doing my big stash sort through, I found some old, partially knit socks from many moons ago that looked very neat — and remembered that I used to often knit my socks on US size 0 (2.0 mm) needles and decided I should perhaps start doing that again, especially for lighter fingering weight yarns.  So I’m knitting these on US 0  ni new to me Hiya Hiya short circulars.  Holding the shorter circulars is definitely a bit different, but the more I do it the more I’m convinced that I like it.

These are knit out of West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply in one of their new Florist colorways, and I’m really enjoying it.  The pink and peach splotches and speckles are so charming.  And this is my first time actually knitting with WYS 4ply (though I have a few colors in my stash, oops!) and I really like the blend.  It’s 75% wool and 25% nylon, but it doesn’t feel like your standard wool-nylon blend.  The yarn feels sturdier than a merino sock yarn, but still soft.  It’s definitely convincing me I need to make some WYS socks for myself soon (these are destined to be samples!)

That about does it for me!  But go check out what my fellow sockalongers are up to this month.  We’ve got quite a whopping four new kids on the Once Upon a Sock block[er] (sorry I couldn’t resist!) — if you’d like to join in, we talk socks the first Thursday of the month. Just let one of us know so we can make sure to link you up! You can find lovely Paula, with her almost finished socks, at Spin A Yarn; Kat’s got some adorable ankle socks over at Felinity Knits; Stefanie’s made some sock progress over at Stefanie Crafts with Wool Paper Fabric (formerly Wooly Cakes and Wooden Spoons); and welcome to Steph from My Making Do Adventure, whose got a lovely finished off pair of socks; and welcome to Liz from Knitting from the Hip, whose got some socks and baby booties on the go, Reanna from Knit, Reanna, Knit, who is also knitting some Countess Ablaze socks and experiment with heels, and Kathy B from CompassionKnit.  I’ll update everyone’s links as people’s posts go live 😀

We’re in the midst of snow and cold here in the UK, so back to sock knitting for me — my toes need some more woolly socks! Thanks, as always, for stopping by!


Yarnalong: Galentine’s Edition

Hi friends, and happy Wednesday!

Did you know Yarn Along is back?  That’s right, in January, Ginny announced the return of Yarnalong, in a monthly format — she posts the first Wednesday of every month.  Obviously, today is not the first Wednesday of February (apparently, this month I’ll be doing everything one week late) but in the spirit of getting back to normal blogging, I figured better late than never.

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Knitting: For me, it’s been all sweater knitting, all the time of late. My EYF Stasis is so close to being done, I can almost taste it.  I also started a Carbeth sweater last week, and that’s been flying off the needles in bulky yarn.  In fact, I thought I’d have both of these jumpers finished Monday or Tuesday, but a case of the flu has slowed me down a bit (hence those cough drops).  I’m happy to report that, in the end, it seems I’ll have plenty of yarn to finish my Stasis (I had been a bit worried at the beginning).  Carbeth, on the other hand, is another story … I’m just shy of the neckline and have run out of yarn! I think my lovely mom is going to come to the rescue though, and send me a ball or two as she has some in stash (thanks Mom!)

Reading: Completely by chance, my books this week seem particularly apt given it’s Galentine’s Day.

I’ve just finished up Mary Beard’s Women and Power.  It was a very quick (like read in two sittings) and cogent read.  It’s based on lectures Beard gave, and I like that the book has maintained the conversational tone of a talk given by someone at the top of their game.  There are issues surrounding women, power, race, and class that I think could have been given a bit more space, but on the whole, Beard gives us a good reminder to think about how authority remains gendered in the modern world.  Who do we think sounds authoritative? Who do we think looks authoritative and why?  For me, there was nothing particularly revelatory, but it was good food for thought, and Beard does of course an excellent job of tracing back some of women’s disempowerment in the public sphere to the classical era.  I do recommend giving it a read!

I’m also slowly making my way through Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear.  I learned a bit about Potter’s life in and love of the Lakes District (not far from where I now live) when I read James Rebanks’s A Shepherd’s Life.  Ever since we moved here, I wanted to learn more about her life. I’m still not too far into the book (Beatrix is just reaching adulthood), but so far I’m really enjoying reading about Potter and her love of art and nature.  It’s also got me thinking a lot about how historians write successful biographies.  So far, so good!

What are you reading and knitting this week?  Head over to the original Yarnalong to see what people around the world are up to this month.

Finished Object: Bracken Beanie!

I don’t know about the rest of you (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least!) but from where I sit, winter doesn’t seem to be going anywhere fast.  The days are (thankfully!) getting a bit longer, but the cold, wind, and damp are very much alive and well.  And the hat I keep reaching for again and again is my recently completed Bracken Beanie, which I was lucky enough to test knit for the very talented Jenni Barrett.  And good news — if you need a scrummy hat to keep you and yours warm during the winter that’s still to come, the pattern is now available on Ravelry!

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Continue reading “Finished Object: Bracken Beanie!”