Ahead of the Selvedge Fair in Edinburgh this weekend we find out what it is Jennie Howes loves about her craft...
What made you start working with wool?
Once upon a time, I can just about remember when I didn't have yarn in my hands - but it was a very long time ago! Grannies on both sides enchanted me into the wool world at a very young age, with a knitting dolly made from a cotton reel and four nails and making hundreds of yards (pre-metric) of i-cord. I then progressed on to a crochet hook to learn about tension and then to knitting. A few years ago I was introduced to the spinning world by a very good friend and am now spinning something different every day. It won’t stop there though - I am always amazed at how much there is still to learn by experimenting.
What is it about your craft that captured your attention?
Textiles are so mundane in the true sense of the word - we are wrapped in them from our birth to our death. When we see them, we feel the texture, comment on the colour, style or shape of them. This relationship with textiles is wonderful and inclusive of everyone.
Who inspires you?
Many people, from individual amateur crafters to artisans who want to use bespoke handcrafted materials in their work. I was at a spinners gathering in March and I got talking to a woman who was wearing a hand-spun jumper – or so I thought. I asked her about it and it turned out she knit it straight from the fleece of her own sheep. No spinning, no washing, just a little combing and straight onto the needles! I tried the technique myself and yes, it works and gosh, it’s soft. The people who ask me to create yarns for them inspire me too. I’ve recently been working with Atelier Baba to create some very fine hand-spun British wool yarns.
What is your favourite part of the process?
I love it all actually. Spinning, knitting, weaving, crocheting and felting, and when teaching you never know who you’re going to meet.
What’s the hardest part?
Admin. I really have to push myself to do this.
Where do you live and why have you chosen to be here?
I live in the Scottish Borders, on the East Berwickshire Coast. My husband and I chose to move here about four years ago, after living in France for ten years. We were missing the sea and being home.
What’s your ideal Sunday?
A walk from home to the sea cliffs, stopping at Linkim Shore to search for cowrie shells, getting out the flask of coffee and a bite of chocolate, staring out at the North Sea, whatever the weather.
What are you reading at the moment?
I have by my side 'The Fleece and Fibre Source Book' by Deborah Robson and Carole Ekarius, I love it.
To find out more about the Selvedge Edinburgh fair and to get your tickets, click here.