British wool. Laura’s Loom

A strong belief that ‘our local, ordinary wool is the most beautiful fibre known to man’ is the wonderful starting point for the range of scarves, throws, socks and blankets produced by Laura’s Loom and inspired by the natural tapestry of the Howgill Fells.

Soft, sumptuous and sustainable are their defining characteristics, the wool - some 500 fleeces of it a year - collected by Laura Rosenzweig in September and October from farms around Sedbergh, the Howgill Fells and the Yorkshire Dales. 

‘Keeping it local, maintaining provenance and giving back to our local community are three of our guiding principles,’ says Laura who in 2021 donated £5 from the sale of every blanket to the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, a ‘small charity doing big things in the Yorkshire Dales’.

Her classic mainstay is the Bluefaced Leicester breed whose wool is supplemented by that from Hebridean, Black Welsh Mountain, Shetland, Texel and Ryeland sheep.

Fleeces are scoured and spun in West Yorkshire and dyed and woven in the Scottish Borders. The blanket and scarves are finished in Galashiels, with some yarn knitted into socks in Leicestershire and Bradford. The skills of all the people involved is something, she says, that should be celebrated. 

‘Our goal is to create beautiful items in simple, classy designs that show off the wool at its very best,’ adds Laura. And that extends to the cushions, the hot water bottle covers and handwoven brooches that she makes as well. 

It was 3,000 miles away from her home near Sedbergh - in Boston, Massachusetts - that Laura first took up weaving as a hobby in the 1990s. The hobby turned into something of a passion and after moving back to England, she opened a studio in 2002 at Farfield Mill, a former spinning and weaving mill which by then had been re-born as an arts and heritage centre. 

Now based near Kirkby Lonsdale, Laura continues to weave by hand herself, delighting in the sheer physical effort of ‘touch typing’ with her feet on the ten treadles of her American Harrisville loom or the two treadles of her French-Canadian Leclerc Weavebird. Or - since 2021 - pedalling a British-made Rapier handloom, built by Griffith Textile Machines in the north east of England. 

But whether touch typing or pedalling, whether blankets, throws or scarves are created by Laura herself or by others, there’s 'a labour of love woven into each and every piece’. 

Laura’s Loom, Unit 8, Underley Business Centre, Kearstwick, Kirkby Lonsdale, LA6 2DY: 07549 526 981, www.laurasloom.co.uk A range of British wool scarves and blankets, yarns for weaving and knitting, handwoven tweeds, and British wool accessories (shawls, socks and hot water bottle covers) can be purchased online. Bespoke commissions are undertaken.

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