At the end of May it was all hands on deck to make sure the alpacas got their annual haircuts to keep them cool and trim for the summer. This year we had the added challenge of maintaining social distancing throughout the task; the shearers did a fantastic job and we are so impressed and grateful to them.
Now we have lots of lovely fleece to sort through for processing and turning into our next batches of beautiful yarns, both to use in designs like these and to sell to you to add some special sustainable magic to your own knitted creations. If you have made something special with a Sian O’Doherty yarn, show it off! Post it online with the hashtag #sianodohertyproject so we can admire your hard work. (Use this hash tag for your fabric bundle projects, too!)
We have more exciting products in development for fibre that is less well suited to yarn production – look out for some special bedding and soft furnishing options in the not too distant future.
New arrival – Ash Farm’s first cria of the season!
Welcoming our new arrivals is the highlight of the year at Ash Farm so we were very excited when the first of this years’ cria arrived this week. A champagne coloured little female and an absolute beauty she has won our hearts very quickly. Mum, Bijou, is doing a wonderful job of caring for her and making us very proud!
Any ideas for her name? We have a tradition of naming newcomers after drink names (Prosecco, Tia Maria, Bucks Fizz!). Do send any suggestions by replying on Instagram or by using the contact from if you don’t follow @sianodoherty there… but you should, to be among the first to see the next five babies as they make their first appearances!
Digital Craft Festival…
“One of my favourite events of the year is Craft Festival at Bovey Tracey and although it won’t be going ahead this year as we know it, I am so excited that we will still be able to share in the delight of event with Digital Craft Festival. It’s going to be a fabulous online platform, showcasing makers with a range of workshops, demonstrations, talks, yoga and opportunities to buy direct from makers. It’s a free event celebrating both Bovey Tracey and Cheltenham events running from June 26th-28th, and one not to miss. xxx”
During the three day #digitalcraftfestival event, Sian will be doing some short videos highlighting different aspect of the business and Ash Farm. From studio and shop tours to mini-instructional videos and background into Sian’s design process and inspirations, this is a rare opportunity to have a real behind the scenes view of Sian O’Doherty. If there is anything that you would particularly like to know more about, let Sian know using the contact form or by commenting on one of Sian’s posts on Instagram or Facebook.
There will also be a range of very special offers being posted exclusively via Facebook and Instagram over the three days, so do consider following Sian there if you don’t already.
Follow #digitalcraftfestival as well as @sianodoherty to find lots of contributions from some of the best crafters and designers across the country.
Forage for Nettle, Mint and Pea Soup!
After a very dry early spring, the June rains have brought a burst of growth in the hedgerows and in our gardens, and a particularly lush growth of “weeds”! Put some of that enthusiastic greenery to good use with some delicious nettle soup. As promised in our last newsletter, Sian has given us a wonderful recipe to try, full of fresh summer flavours. Whether you are dealing with unwanted garden abundance(!) or foraging on your daily walk, try out Sian’s recipe and let us know what you think. Do read Sian’s notes on gathering and preparing the nettles before you you head out. Remember to wear a good pair of gloves when picking and handling the raw nettles to protect you from stings – long sleeves and trousers are also a must…
“I love this soup because the nettles add a whole new level of goodness as they are jam-packed with nutrients!! I’ve frozen this soup, too, with great results so you can always bulk up the quantities to make extra.”
1/2 can of butter beans or 1 large potato (either work well)
1 can of full fat coconut milk
20 grams /1 bunch of mint – de-stalked and washed
700ml-800ml of water (I like my soups on the thinner side. If you like a thicker soup reduce the water.)
1 good bowl of nettle leaves, washed – approx 120 grams
1 vegetable stock (optional)
500 grams of frozen peas
Salt and pepper
You want to pick the nettles before they go to seed – the younger the leaves the better. Try to pick the nettles away from roads where pollution is higher. Make sure you not only have gloves on but you are also wearing appropriate clothes when you go nettle foraging! Take it from me – shorts are a no no!!
Pick the leaves from the top most part of the nettle plant, roughly 3-4 inches from the top. Prepare your leaves by soaking in water and, wearing your gloves to avoid any stings that might still be lingering, rinse in a colander to remove any lurking insects. Your nettles are now ready for adding straight to the soup. (Don’t worry; the heat from the soup and the action of the blender removes the stings)
Wash and cut the potato and add to the pan or, if using butterbeans, rinse the beans and then add to the pan.
Add the full fat coconut milk. (Light coconut milk works well, too, if you prefer.)
Add the water to the pan and vegetable stock, if using
Cook the contents until the potatoes are nearly cooked, or the beans heated through thoroughly.
Add the frozen peas, fresh mint and nettles and bring back to the boil.
Use a hand blender or a food processor to blend the soup until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
If you made any of the wild garlic pesto and have any left this makes a lovely addition to your bowl of soup.
Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!
Finally, a big thank you for helping to make our Hay Day event such a great success. It was great fun to connect with so many of you individually as we sent out your items and gave our sense of being part of a wider community a real boost during this strange time of relative isolation. Thank you for being here and we look forward to being able to see you face to face again soon!