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From Sheep Farmer to wool maker

Denise Ead

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Devin Reed Mill Brow Roman Lakes Mellor Primary School Stockport Grammar Wool Marketing Board

Devin Reed

I recently interviewed Devin Reed at his cottage in Mill Brow after spotting him at a Roman Lakes “Fact and Fun Day”. I was curious to find out about sheep farming in our area and also the process of producing wool for knitting. 

Devin has lived in the same cottage all his life, attending Mellor Primary School then Stockport Grammar School before studying at the Harper Adams Agricultural College where he gained a HND in agriculture. 

He farms a 100 ewes and the main breed of his sheep are Charolais, originating from France. Devin explained, “The Charolais are a good meat lamb for the table and also have a fine fleece”. He breeds his own sheep but the income from his flock is insufficient to live on so he has recently diversified into producing his own wool. He explained that if a farmer has more than 10 sheep the wool has to be sold to the ‘Wool Marketing Board’. However, it is possible to obtain an exemption for specific handicraft use.

Devin Reed

Devin described the process from fleece to fabric. “I shear my own sheep, the next stage is scouring the wool with warm water and soap, taking care otherwise you end up with felt!!  I then card the wool to produce a ‘sliver’ for spinning”. 

“The carded wool then goes through a 100 year old spinning wheel to produce a single ply wool which can be plied on the wheel to produce two or three ply wool. The plied wool goes into a small hand held winding machine to produce balls of wool.” Devin then dyes it to be sold and used to make garments. A labour of love certainly, but the end result clearly brings him immense pleasure. 

He also has a great love of music, enjoys playing guitar and singing ballads. One of his favourite is the Irish ballad the ‘Spinning Wheel,' I was treated to a rendition.  If you would like to hear Devin sing then see him on Tuesday evening at The Beer Traders on Stockport Road, Marple. Devin also works as a gardener and maintenance worker and he participates in running events, having recently completed a triathlon for Charity.

If you would like to know more about Devin and his woollen, gardening or music enterprises then you can contact him on MrDJReed@aol.com 

His web address is :  greenhillwoolencrafts.godaddysites.com