From Sheep to Socks

In the pretty, peaceful, hilltop village of San Vicente del Monte in Cantabria, Cari’s sheep graze happily in the gently rolling hills beneath the dramatic Escudo mountain ridge. Alongside, an amazing array of flowers and plants, used for her wool dyeing, grow contentedly.

Photo of Cari's workshop
Cari’s workshop

Her fascinating, little workshop, sits quietly in the village square, overlooked by the fine church and the local bar. Crammed with all sorts of bottles, pots and pans, looms and spinning wheels and beautiful skeins of wool of the most dazzling colours from indigo blue to mustard yellow, it takes you into another world.

Cari, is one of the few craftswomen in Cantabria, who continues the traditional process of wool making from shearing to carding to spinning and dyeing, to knitting, crocheting and weaving! Her ninety- six year old mother, Adela, taught her the trade. Adela still knits the socks and escarpines (a kind of slipper used to line the traditional wooden clogs “albarcas” worn by farmers), on sale. She started making socks in the Civil War to send to the front to keep the soldiers’ feet warm.

Photo of ninety- six year old Adela
Ninety-six year old Adela

School teacher and artistic brother, Nando, helps with the wool dyeing and with the occasional weekend workshop they hold to pass on their invaluable skills to others. Forever inventive, Cari now also works with other textiles, including silk, and is at present experimenting with Itajime Shibori, a Japanese technique.

Long may the tradition go on!

Nearby is Casa Nieves, a lovely detached bungalow offering a perfect retreat for self-caterers wanting to explore some of Northern Spain’s prettiest and most treasured attractions.