Susie’s Sheepskin Boots
This is my first blog entry and for weeks I have wondered what I would write about when I finally forced myself to make a start. I have no idea if anybody ever reads these things but I have been encouraged to set up a blog to go with my website as it seems the fashionable thing to do. But what to write about? I might aswell start at the beginning as I have been making sheepskin boots for thirty-five years now and there are many stories to be told.
My Tenby Granny and Great Aunt Maud were both wonderful craftswomen and smocked silk dresses every Christmas for me and my cousins (well the girls anyway). My Mother, to find her own identity became a gifted knitter so I guess craftwork is part of my inheritance. When I was a teenager in boarding school I secretly gave up Latin to take up needlework without ever telling my parents. Later on when I was studying to be a teacher I specialised in weaving and developed a love of making rugs which I still do whenever I can find the time. In the early 70s I moved to Wales and married a potter named Simon in Narberth, Pembrokeshire. We lived in a house that had once been a bakery. There was a pottery workshop in the back and a retail shop in the front. I made intricate hippy clothes, reversible quilted waistcoats in Liberty lawn, flouncy skirts, rouched sundresses, peasant blouses and men’s trousers in velvet, calico and canvas. We also sold wrap-around-skirts and dresses made from batiqued Indian cotton. Nobody had ever seen these in Wales at that time and the clothes offered an exciting contrast to the pottery. It was a great little shop.
At that time I suffered with chilblains in the winter and I met a lady from New Guinea who was making Ugg boots on a small scale based on a pattern brought from her home. I bought a pair and my chilblains disappeared, I instantly became a devotee and have never had another chilblain to this day. After a while the New Guinea lady, who lived on a farm, wanted to keep pigs instead of making boots so she sold me the business. The boots in those days were rather baggy, they were made in small, medium and large and were either white or occasionally brown with no support going around the heel and the soles had no grip, bounce or flexibility. Over the years they have evolved and become a much more tailored design and a snug fit. I make them in different heights, a choice of soles and a wide range of colour possibilities and sometimes adding special touches like embroidered braid running up the back or sides. It was fun selling them in the pottery shop and in the winter I used to spend long hours sewing after the babies had been put to bed. Sometimes we would take the pottery and the boots to craft markets and the whole family would pile into the VW camper van and we’d make an adventure of it. I have been searching for photos to post with this blog but it was the pre-digital era and people weren’t so snap-happy. I did find a black and white one of Simon painting goblets in the pottery workshop out the back of our kitchen. See Simon Rich website.