Shearing is arguably the most important day of the year for us as fibre growers, it's the day that marks the ticking along of the farming calendar. We're writing a series of blog posts on all things shearing, and today we're covering why our logo is quite so important to us.
We sometimes get asked about our logo - what is it? Why is it important? Having just finished shearing, it seemed like the perfect time to chat about it.
Some years ago, our flock used to be quite a bit bigger than it is now - several hundred ewes. Back then, Sally sheared each and every one of them by hand, using a traditional method known as blade shearing, and these are the shears she used.
They’re long since retired now, and have lost the sheen that shows they’re in regular use, but these double bowed Burgon and Ball English style shears have shorn thousands of fleeces, probably hundreds of thousands of individual, deftly placed, skilful snips of fibre.
Over the years, we slowly transitioned to primarily machine shearing, initially as a way to finish off the last fifty or so at the end of the flock, and now to get through the bulk of them in no time at all. Sally still blade shears some each year, the first dozen or so who’s fleeces are ready to come off before the rest of the flock, but she’s upgraded to a fancy new pair of Jakoti hand shears, with a scissor-like action that’s slightly easier on arthritic hands. They can always be found in her back pocket as she walks through the flock, any sheep that needs shearing or dagging (removing dung and matted wool from the rump of the sheep) can be dealt with right there in the field.
Blade shearing itself will always have a place, even in the fast-paced world of machine shearing, where the buzz of blades result in a blur of wool, seemingly seconds per sheep, and in our case, the entire flock completed in little over twenty minutes between the trio of shearers.
Blade shearing is slower, it’s calmer, and it’s gentler. It’s often valued when there’s harsher weather on the way, as it inherently leaves a slightly longer covering of wool, so a bit more of a protective layer.
It’s also a highly skilled craft, and like machine shearing, the blade becomes an extension of the shearer, working through fibre as it tumbles away from the sheep. For an experienced blade shearer, they’ll have their own specific way of “doing up” the shears, setting up a specific grind, blade angle and tension, perfectly suited to their own specific style. In Sally’s case, this is a slightly smaller set, sprung to a looser tension for smaller hands and a particularly sharp grind on the point for smooth entry into the break of the fleece.
So in short, these particular shears hold a special place in our heart, which is why they live on as our logo, on each and every skein of yarn we make.