Denise: Nettle is not exactly a name that sells, but the truth is that nettles do yield wonderful colours that epitomize what natural dyes are all about – at their best. Here’s some skeins of nettle over alum mordant, drying on the line outside our dyeshed.
Jonathan: We call them ‘pet lambs’, but according to our Carrick guest from California, they’re known there as ‘bottle babies’! Last year there was just one, so we were his only company in his oh-so-impressionable early weeks. For his own sake we had to ween him off bottled milk and re-integrate him into the flock as early as possible. It was hard for everyone! As the weeks passed, the lamb’s clamouring for milk and comfort fell away, and after some months I would not have been able to identify him except by rounding up the sheep and checking ear tags. That was until just a day or two ago. I’d rounded up the rams and wedders for shearing and dosing, and was working through them one by one, some with more difficulty than others. There’s some who kick and struggle relentlessly, others that accept the inevitable. But there was one that seemed to behave very oddly: constantly turning its head to look at me. When I’d finished it just lay there, looking up at me, and when I bent down to pull it to its feet it just stood there smelling my ears face and touching my nose with his. Funnily enough I didn’t make the connection at the time, but since then every visit to the croft this same young ram is now following me about, and even comes into the hen house with me: just as he used to do when he was a little lamb and he came everywhere with me. It’s intriguing how the close-up scent of me stirred up recollections from the past, and renewed old relationships. Here he is, on the right, shorn for the first time, and thankful for a still, warm sunny day.