Susan Crawford is a legend in the knitting world. She specialises in interpreting ideas from vintage patterns for today and lectures in fashion history. Not only is she a knitwear designer and author, but also a shepherdess. Her small flock of sheep includes Shetlands, Herdwicks, Zwartbles and Lonks
12 months ago, Susan was diagnosed with stage 3 invasive breast cancer and was given poor odds for survival. An intensive period of chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy culminated a year later with Susan cancer free. She was, and continues to be, supported by the amazing local charity CancerCare, who provide complementary treatments and professional advice to cancer patients and their carers at no cost to the user.
Susan also became part of Phoenix, CancerCare's online group and formed friendships with many other women going through the same experiences. A short time after joining a project began photographing members of Phoenix sharing their scars, both physical and mental. These 'Scarletts' as they became known wanted to share their personal experiences of how cancer, and particularly, breast cancer, attempts to strip women of their physicality, their visual identity.
Through the portraits they wanted to take back ownership of their bodies, and to be proud of who they had become. These portraits have been turned into the 'Knocker Jotter' which is being sold to raise funds for CancerCare.
To help support this campaign and to put two fingers up at the horror that is cancer, Susan created the 'fubc' shawl kit. The kit includes two skeins of Susan's exclusive 100% Lonk wool, Ghyll, one undyed and one dyed, enough to make one of two shawl patterns included in the kit both inspired by the shape and structure of Lonk horns. In addition a copy of the 'Knocker Jotter' is included in every kit.
What makes these kits even more special is the dyeing. Susan reached out to four hand dyers, Old Maiden Aunt, Countess Ablaze, Skein Queen and Knitting Goddess, each of whom instantly agreed to provide an exclusive colourway inspired by one of the portraits in the journal.
My inspiration photo was of a Scarlett called Karen who wore a beautiful three-layered chiffon skirt in peach, gold and pink with a purple belt with the moody blue sky behind. It's a strong but feminine image as she draws back the string on a bow, ready to face her critics and her new journey ahead.
Each dyer dyed approximately 100 skeins. No two are identical and the four colourways are very different, each reflecting the approach of the dyer. There are fewer than 400 kits available. Susan's 2016 limited edition Ghyll yarn is available only in the fubc kits with a percentage of monies from each kit sale being donated to CancerCare.
Ghyll is 100% British wool all from a single breed of sheep – the Lonk. Only the best shearling fleeces have been used, from just one flock living on the Lancashire moors overlooking the Lune valley directly across from Susan’s own farm. Using only the best fleeces ensures the highest quality of yarn.
Ghyll is worsted spun, meaning it is combed before spinning to create a smoother, stronger and less scratchy yarn. It is comprised of 3 plys which are spun together with quite a high twist creating a firm but bouncy yarn, suitable for all sorts of knitting projects but particularly textured patterns, lace knitting and even socks.
Yesterday marked the last injection of Susan's treatment and it is so good to welcome her back into the knitting world.
The kits are available now to order exclusively from www.susancrawfordvintage.com