Hello we are the Bulleid’s. My name is Andrea, my husband is Chris and our children are Dylan, Gemma and Blake. We are sheep and beef farmers at Longridge North (Northern Southland) on Glengordon Farm, an hour south of Queenstown. Also part of our team is Mum - Janice Potts. Mum taught me how to knit.
We farm 4500 Romney breeding ewes, 1200 hoggets (they are the up and coming breeders) and we also run a breeding and finishing cow herd in conjunction. The farm is the north end of the Longridge with an undulating valley and surrounded with blocks of native bush (protected by QE11 covenant) and some steeper tussock blocks. We feel privileged to be able to live and work on this picturesque property that hosts many special natural features.
We love wool. We use it where ever we can - it is in the carpet on our floors, insulating our house, in the clothes we wear, we even use the bits and pieces in our dog’s kennels for warmth and comfort and occasionally as mulch around newly planted trees to suppress weeds and slowly feed the trees. We observe our pets and animals’ preference for wool also - the cats choose to sleep on the wool blankets (or my knitting), the horse will nuzzle against a wool jersey, wild birds will build their nests with wool. It’s attractive.
I enjoy knitting but I would not claim to be an ‘expert’ knitter. My preference is for straightforward, relaxing knitting where there’s not too much concentration required and I can produce items of use in snippets of spare time. For me (everyone’s different), it’s a way to switch off and calm my body and brain.
I learnt to knit as a child, taught by Mum - the lesson was quick, the basics taught and I was then left to my own devices. I would be lying if I said I churned out successful, completed projects! But there the lifelong journey began and this simple repetitive hand skill - which I could come and go from at whim - gradually progressed.
I remember the Peggy Square drive during my primary school years that involved school children knitting squares and sending the completed wool blankets over to war or famine ravaged countries. On cold wintry days we would be inside the classroom during lunchtime working away at knitting our Peggy Squares. Locals would come in to help out with the learner knitters. The squares might end up a little less than square, with the odd imperfection - but the oddities were overlooked and we felt good about what we’d learnt, achieved and given.
I believe there is a positive tactile feedback from handling wool that is also at play while knitting. Just as toddlers will nuzzle their favourite toy, handling a natural fibre gives an intangible warmth and feeling of grounding.
Unfortunately, the handcraft of knitting is no longer being passed on from generation to generation as it once was. Skills are being lost and there are many idle hands that don’t know what they’re missing out on.
There are so many beautiful wool yarns being produced and the internet is loaded with amazing patterns and creative ideas - never has the knitter had such inspiration at their fingertips - but that’s not much use if you don’t know how to knit!
This is why I have started The Sheep’s Back. To teach the basics. After you’ve mastered these simple skills you can choose your own path. Perhaps become an expert? Or stay simple. Either way - learning to knit will provide you with a relaxing hobby or necessary domestic skill that will be with you for the rest of your life.
I’ve also included a kit for dying wool with natural materials - you must try this - it is astonishing! I can’t help but get a childlike excitement when I pull the wool out of the dye pot to see what colour I’ve made! It’s safe for children to do (some supervision is required) and encourages them to get outside and get familiar with botany, observing what is available in their environment and what is in season.