Fashion is Agriculture: British wool from field to fabric


with The Wool Library

Saturday: 14.30 – 15.30

Zoe Fletcher (The Woolist) and Maria Benjamin (Dodgson Wood) came together to challenge current perceptions and encourage the use of breed specific British wool. This talk will be an exploration of the amazing variety of British sheep breeds found across our Isles. Embedding the importance of farmers within the wool textile industry and sharing their passion and care for the land and livestock, Zoe and Maria believe British wool has a unique opportunity to be a catalyst in its connection to people and place.

They will discuss the need for highlighting the variety of British sheep breeds and their different wool qualities. Understanding the possibilities for breed-specific and fully traceable fleece characteristics to be carried from field to fabric; working from the ground up, to see how the needs of each user can be met and satisfied whilst valuing their skilled input – from farmers to producers, designers and makers through re-educating and reconnecting the material journey. By showcasing the natural diversity and potential for rare and native breeds, and the different tactile qualities of sheep breeds across the UK, we can create positive collaborative change, with a cultural and environmental impact. This interactive talk will have ample time for looking, handling and discussing Zoe’s research with data sheets, breed books and fleece and yarn samples on display.


Maria runs multiple ethical businesses utilising farm commodities and skills gathered from her and her partner’s farm in the Lake District. Including The Soap Dairy, utilising their Jersey Cow Honeysuckle’s milk, Lake District Tweed, bringing provenance-based textiles back to the Lake District using wool sourced from within the different districts, and off-grid accommodation developments within their carefully farmed land.


Zoe has a background in knitwear design and academic research focussing on knit experimentation using natural fibres. Completing a PhD focussing on British sheep breed fleece characteristics for knitwear design, including creating a comparable database for designers to use to utilise more breed-specific and traceable British wool. ‘Designing for breed’ enables a more conscious and functional way of working with a distinguishable material to suit complex end needs.

19 in stock