Wherever you go in the English Lake District, one thing is certain: You will see sheep —on the fells, in the valleys, and even on the lakeshore. You may notice that many of these sheep are grey or black with white faces. They are Herdwicks, native to Cumbria.
Miss Beatrix Potter, famous for her series of little books about Peter Rabbit and his friends, is less well known as Mrs. Beatrix Heelis, farmer, needleworker, and conservationist. It is after she married at age 47, and her eyesight began to fail, that she spent all of her time in the Lake District, managing the farms she’d purchased with the profits from her books, breeding Herdwick sheep, and even serving as the first woman president of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association. In the end, Beatrix Heelis, née Potter, left over 4,000 acres, fifteen farms in all, to the British National Trust for the preservation of the rural landscape and lifestyle she had come to love.
Throughout the pages of this booklet, you will find information about places to visit.
Seeds of Inspiration
Sometimes things just connect in the right way. Sometimes it takes years to happen. In the summer of 2010, I visited Beatrix Potter’s farm in the North of England. I loved the beautiful scenery almost as much as I loved the story of Beatrix Potter.
In 2014, I visited Cordova, Alaska where I met Anna Hernandez, an indie dyer with a business called “Skeins in the Stacks.” Anna works as a librarian and has created a series of colorways inspired by the little Peter Rabbit books.
These two events led to me creating a collection of small accessories with Anna’s yarn, and inspired by the stories of Peter and his friends. I hope you love it as much as I do.
Beatrix Potter’s England
The young lady who drew and wrote stories of Peter Rabbit and his farmyard friends later married and became an activist for preserving the farmland of the Lake District of England. She bought up thousands of acres of land and raised Hardwick sheep on her working farms. After her death, her properties became part of the UK’s National Trust and the land today looks much as it does in Potter’s day.
You can read about this in a special essay co-written by Deb Robson in the Peter Rabbit ebook.