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Deb Robson and Tussah

Tip jar

for the sheep!

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« Trading up for Ireland: a bunch of handspun yarn | Main | Moose »

January 26, 2010


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Oh, what a lovely tribute to your friend. I can imagine how bittersweet it is to use the fleece she sent now that she is gone.

How wonderful that she can be part of your project.

The Oxford is positively luminous.

Incidentally, the teacher for the kids I taught last year, gave me a gift certificate for Schuler Books (you'd love this independent bookstore). I spoke there about my pattern in Joy of Sox and the process it took.

And then I used the certificate to buy Clara Parkes' Book of Wool. I thought of you. The wild pile of wool in the center of the cover is so visually intriguing, and you'd know much about it from a glance. I know it's wool.

AND I re-lived our night with cameras and Priscilla and Nelda at Sock Summit. I showed the crowd my 4 examples of Turkish Socks. Appreciated by all.

Deborah Robson

Love your stories, Lynn! YES to your choice of Clara Parkes' book. It has a wonderful cover . . . and it's even better inside.

The evening studying your socks at Sock Summit was a high point of 2009 for me. There are so many narratives to be found in fiber, if we just look.


what a lovely tribute and informative post, Deb. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to share this information. Can't wait for the book to come out!


A beautiful story, even for someone like me, for whom the wool stuff goes right over the head! I'm so glad this rush to the finish includes some time to reflect, pull things together, and get it right...

Deborah Robson

Even with the rush, my heart has to feel right about the work . . . or I couldn't put in the hours! Thanks for listening. . . .

Susan J. Tweit

Your tribute to Deb, and the wool you both love(d) so, is such a lovely one. It's particularly poignant because it shows off how much you and she shared--the meticulousness as well as the passion for the sheep and their fiber. This kind of personal reflection--wherever you can sneak it into the book--is what will make it a classic, well-thumbed and much loved.

Deborah Robson

Sneaky thought much appreciated, Susan. The challenge is that the voice of the book is a blend of me and Carol: my personal observations are subtexts (believe me, they're there!!!). Where I can probably tuck in some of the remarks about Deb will be in captions. (And, of course, the acknowledgments.)

Yet I suspect strongly there's another book in my future, one that will be even more challenging to write in and around the other demands of life. One that will have room for even more stories.

I have made some new friends in this process who would have loved to have known Deb, and vice versa. I'd like to introduce them to each other in any way that I can.


You did such a good job here are intertwining the fibers and your love of your friend...and that's what gives meaning to many in the spinning community! I too am a "down breeds" lover (spun my share of Suffolks!) and I think I have an Oxford fleece in the next room. Glad you found what you needed close to home...but do let me know if you're still looking for particular kinds of fleece. I might could have it, or know someone who does.

Anna McCarthy

I just loved Deborah Pulliam's taste in wool, as it were. I loved every one of her projects in Spin Off. All her stuff just resonated for me, perhaps as a former State of Mainer: All her projects were so real, so down to earth. The lichen dyed socks. And I know where Castine is.. Her socks, her vest, all of it. How I wept when she died and yet I never came close to meeting her - that I know of. All her projects live on in my imagination in my appreciation of despised breeds. Thank you.

Deb Robson

Joanne, Ill be dropping you a note . . . need to go to the PO and pick up another packet of wools just arrived (deadline for this part of the project is Monday, eek; and theres more due shortly after that).

Anna, yes: you did know Deb . . . I say that because of what you have said about her work. (If youd ever met her in person, youd remember: she was not loud, but she had a presence . . . she was one-of-a-kind.) The techniques she used were as interesting as the wools and her spinning. Not complicated. Also down-to-earth. Always thoughtful.

I initially met Deb when she wrote Thoughts from Godspeeds foredeck, about spinning and sailing vessels.She knew textiles, and she could find the stories in them. A list of her Spin-Off contributions:http://ow.ly/11m8l

Diana Troldahl

I had never heard of your friend Deb before reading this post (I am very new to spinning) but I appreciate your gift of sharing her with us now.
She brings to mind my own friend Deb Nickerson (whom we called 'Knickers') whose passions were as strong, and as akilter from the majority.


Deb's passion and passionate committment shown through each published piece of hers I ever read. I treasured reading them. Thank you for including a bit of her in this new work. Some of the nicest hand has been wool 'not suited to handspinning'; of which I've had particularly good results with suffolk.


What a lovely post - so bittersweet. I loved Deb's stuff in Piecework and wherever I found it. And I know where the Ryeland came from and have also bought fleece from the same farm, so feel a tiny link there.

Thank you for your thoughtfulness.

Deb Robson

I spun more of Debs wool yesterday: the Hampshires, one white and one black. I have one more treat--some of her Suffolk. Once the project is over, Id love to use these yarns to make something. Again, they will need to be portions of something larger, as they are a part of this project. There is, however, enough to make a palpable contribution to some knitting or weaving or crocheting idea that becomes, as Deb would like it to be, useful.

Deb Robson

Ive noted that from UK Knit Camp there will be an optional tour to the New Lanark World Heritage Site . . . probably *not* the source of Deb Ps Ryeland, but perhaps nearby. What lovely wool this Ryeland is. It was bliss to spin. Im glad you have had the experience of spinning wool from the same farm!


You may be able to find fleece from horned Dorsets at Ewe & I Farm in New Hampshire, if you are still looking for some. Last I knew, Cindy and Jerry still had some old style horned Dorset ewes.
They have a blog here:

Hope this might help in your search! I have loved the Down breeds since I first began spinning and spinning "snobs" would insist it was not good for anything ;) My dad and brother had a lovely flock of old style Suffolk and the fiber was fantastic (and free, LOL!)

Enjoyed your post very much...


Deb's fibre from Lanark would have come from Robin and Margaret McEwen-King, who have a really interesting mixed herd, plus pedigree Shetlands, that they breed specifically for handspinners. They had a fabulous Jacob/Polwarth wether called Babe with beautiful silver blue fleece - I had his fleece for five years running. Worth tracking them down...


I so love that Deb placed those fibers in your care - she knew what she was doing. What a beautiful way to honor her work *and* carry it forward in your own. You are creating a reference work whose importance and impact will span far beyond any of our lifetimes. It's exciting to watch it unfold from here - thank you for giving us these sneak peeks!

Deborah Robson

Cary, I love Horn Dorset, and while I don't need any now I might when the project is over, so thanks for the source tip. I've spun a bunch of Suffolk and Dorset (poll) that I got free, years ago. . . .

Thanks, Freyalyn, for letting me know where Deb's Lanark fiber came from. I am beginning to wonder if the universe will let me connect with some next summer.

And Clara, I do hope this work lays a foundation for others to build on, as my work is resting (word chosen deliberately, although this project is not currently very restful) on the visions and accomplishments of those who have put together what they've learned of these fibers before me.


Wonderful project! If you are still looking for some Dorset Down, my neighbor raises them and I'll be helping him with shearing this spring. I'd be happy to send you some fleece.

Deb Robson

Kristen, if if your neighbor has Dorset Downs (the brown-faced sheep), rather than Dorset poll, the white-faced, Id be thrilled. I do have Dorset poll and Dorset horn samples already.

Dorset Downs are these guys and most of them are in the UK:

Dorsets (poll and horn) are these guys, and there are a bunch in North America and also (from a different genetic line) in Australia:

Sheep are endlessly fascinating. . . .

Anyway, I LIKE Dorset (poll and horn) a lot personally--and what I need for the book is Dorset Down. So Id be delighted to have your help if this fits: the book goes to the editors about now (some is already there), but photography will be later in the spring, probably after shearing, so we might be able to tuck in a last-minute set of samples for that.

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