If you search Facebook for The Feral Spinner you will find Debbie Zawinski, who rambles through landscapes collecting sheep’s wool from bramble bushes and hawthorn trees, then spins it into yarn as she walks using a handheld spindle about the size of a pencil.
Each evening she makes camp and continues with her knitting from the day before. She can be knitting a pair of socks while writing details of her day’s tramp: who she’s met, stories they’ve shared, things she’s seen, places she’s been.
Debbie has made a few wool-inspired journeys and her latest was around Scotland in search of rare breed sheep, not only to see them face to face but to meet the shepherds and to glean some fleece from each flock with which to knit a whole series of rare breed socks.
As with all her trips Debbie wrote about her adventure, and this time Schoolhouse Press, an American publishing company, fell in love with her story... Fast forward to the St Abbs Wool Festival on November 7 and you can join in by meeting Debbie, seeing the rare breed socks and getting a signed copy of her book ‘In The Footsteps Of Sheep’.
“It seems perfect to launch my book at such a vibrant local wool festival,” said Debbie, adding “Jennie, who organises St Abbs Wool Festival is a friend and a fellow spinner and sock knitter. She’s been really supportive and enthusiastic about the book and I’m so excited about this signing. I’ll be bringing some of my socks along as well as my travelling spinning kit. Having the book published is really thrilling and I’m really looking forward to November 7.”
Debbie has written beautifully about her journeys: the hills, shorelines, and bogs explored; the sheep and people she met along the way; weather both foul and fair, and a particularly exciting chapter about the St Kilda archipelago and its feral Soay and Boreray sheep.
Ruth Dalton, Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s Scotland & Northern England Field Officer said “Debbie’s book is a beautiful evocation of the landscapes and cultures that shaped Scotland’s diverse sheep breeds. ‘In the Footsteps of Sheep’ powerfully conveys how the future of our rare and native breeds is inextricably bound to the security of the land and it’s people who support them today.
“The Rare Breeds Survival Trust has an enthusiastic network of local volunteers all over Britain and we’re really happy to support Debbie promoting her book wherever she takes it, whenever we can.”
Jennie Howes, organiser of the St. Abbs Wool Festival said: “We’re enjoying teasing Debbie about being a globe-trotting, internationally published, travel-knitting celebrity but she’s by no means the only woolly talent on show at this autumn’s wool festival. There are two new to the event: Sue Shaw who sculpts amazing felted wool animals and Sue Boyd with her Big Knitting and Crochet, great for wool crafters who want their projects to grow quickly.”
Jennie went on: “I go to lots of wool-craft events up and down Britain and meet so many talented craftspeople, professionals and amateurs. The things people make using woollen fibres and yarns are just amazing.”
The festival will be in The Ebba Centre and The Visitor Centre on Saturday, November 7, from 10am. Full details, festival news and website links to all the exhibitors and public transport options are on facebook: St-Abbs-Wool-Festival and www.skybluepink-designs.com/st-abbs-wool-festival or telephone 01890 771154.