After a lifetime of crafting, Sophie Howgego, 54, of Alston is the newest designer maker to join The Wool Clip co-operative at Caldbeck.
Sophie, who also trades as Sofluphie (So Fluffy), is a former teacher who is now focusing on her wool craft work. She makes a range of woollen wall hangings, vessels and art yarns using her skills as a spinner, wet feltmaker and embroiderer.
“Most of my current work is based on wet felted wool that I then embellish with embroidery and other techniques,” Sophie explains. “I start with fleece from local North Pennine farmers – usually from Jacob, mule or Texel sheep – and then I work with some of it in its natural shades, some of it dyed in bright colours and then mixtures of the two.”
Sophie has also recently created the Brewhouse Studios arts and crafts venue in Alston with an established member of The Wool Clip, Julia Neubauer.
“Each of us separately could see the potential of the space in the Old Brewery on The Raise at Alston but it was pure chance that Julia and I spoke to each other and realised that the best way to make something happen was to work together,” says Sophie. “When I also mentioned to Julia about wanting to be part of something bigger, she showed my work to other members of The Wool Clip and it’s all come together over the past couple of months.”
Ruth Strong, a sheep farmer, dyer and knitter from near Hesket Newmarket, is the current Chair of The Wool Clip co-operative: “Sophie’s work fits into the shop really well and fills a gap in our product range too,” she says. “It’s not just the finished work that is so striking but customers will also be able to buy Sophie’s art yarns and batts to use in their own projects.”
As Sophie concludes: “I’m looking forward to being part of something so established and well known. Each member has their different skills and I’ll be learning a huge amount from them as well as spotting opportunities for joint working and combined products. I love the whole idea of operating as a co-operative and it’s exciting to be joining The Wool Clip at the same time as Brewhouse Studios takes off. It’s certainly going to be a busy few months ahead.”
A selection of Sophie’s work is now on display and for sale at The Wool Clip in Priest’s Mill, Caldbeck. The shop is open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 11.30am to 4pm. Further information, directions and a link to The Wool Clip online shop can be found at www.woolclip.com.