Tethera, Methera, Tic: Counting Sheep and Functional felt at the Old Fulling Mill Museum

By Ben Miller | 22 February 2012
A photo of a woman standing in a field wearing a white dress
Exhibition: Tethera, Methera, Tic: Counting Sheep, Functional felt from Local Wools, Old Fulling Mill Museum of Archaeology, University of Durham, February 26 – May 7 2012

Ellie Langley lives and works on a small holding in Upper Weardale, where she keeps a small and varied flock of sheep.

The wool industry the surrounding area was once renowned for may have declined in recent years, but Langley keeps the dream alive by taking their felt and turning it into items as exotic as wedding dresses and coffins, both of which are on display in this showcase of her weaved wonders.

The title of this showcase of her exquisite works comes from the old Weardale phrase for “three, four five” – the system used to score sheep, once common throughout the north.

And the continued use of natural fibres in the region also reflects their environmental qualities and their position as part of a living heritage.

“The Old Fulling Mill itself was once a part of Durham’s thriving wool industry,” explains Craig Barclay, the Curator of the Archaeology Museum.

“As such, it makes an ideal setting in which to highlight the practical uses to which wool has been – and continues to be – put.

“Ellie’s work is both functional and beautiful. It demonstrates the versatility of this most traditional of materials.”

  • Open Friday-Monday 11.30am-3.30pm (11am-4pm every day from April 1). Admission £1/50p (family ticket £2.50, free for under-5s).

More pictures:

A photo of sheep grazing on flat farmland
The colours of the wools used are completely natural, drawn from the different breeds of sheep grazing on the Weardale patch
A photo of a woman lying on a table in a dress made of sheep wool
The coffins are becoming an eco option for burials - modelled here by Langley's daughter
A photo of rolled up yarns of sheep wool on a countryside table
"Carded batts" are rolls of wool ready for felting
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