In the 1970’s, there was growing recognition in the UK and the USA that many livestock breeds were in serious decline, and in fact several breeds had already become extinct. The timely establishment of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) UK in 1973, and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy in 1977, now The Livestock Conservancy, has slowed that decline. Farmers, flock keepers, and committed enthusiasts plus producers and consumers of wool, hair, and meat products are working towards increasing the population numbers of primitive, rare, and threatened breeds. The RBST Watchlist and The Livestock Conservancy's Conservation Priority List show each breed's annual conservation status, evidence of the several success stories and testament to the sheer dedication and determination among all those involved with and touched by these animals.
Margaret's area of special interest is weaving with the wools of vulnerable sheep breeds, especially British breeds. Weaving Legends™ embodies Margaret’s devotion to promoting awareness of the fragile futures of these endangered breeds through her research, articles, presentations, artisan shows, and gallery exhibits. Weaving Legends™ is essentially a massive collaboration among a dedicated handweaver, sheep farmers and flock keepers steadfast in their challenging work to prevent further losses, and of course, the extraordinary creatures themselves, the sheep.
The centerpiece of Weaving Legends™ is Margaret’s life project, a private collection of her handwoven “Preservation Wraps”. Each naturally colored and highly textured wrap represents a watchlisted British sheep breed in the UK and the USA. The overall woven objective is for each Preservation Wrap to look as if it were lifted directly from the sheep itself: robust, lustrous, unrefined, sleek, rugged, elegant. Wools are sourced from North American, British, and Irish farmers, flock keepers or those representing the people directly involved with these breeds. Margaret has the ongoing privilege of working with people who continually battle the odds by raising sheep that are generally small in number and stature, in addition to producing fleece that is not easily marketable because of uncommon colors and textures. Margaret respects and is in awe of all her wool sources. A devoted handspinner and dear friend in the UK, has expressed the spirit of these legendary breeds with skill and artistry through her handspun yarns, which find themselves in many of Margaret's pieces. A UK sheep farmer arranged the transport of her breed's yarn by a friend traveling to the USA to help Margaret eliminate the high shipping costs. Some sources discounting the very costly overseas postal charges, while others surprisingly added an extra skein without charge. Farmers who have never been asked have gladly fulfilled requests for fleece. The stories are wonderfully endless. When complete, over 80 Preservation wraps will have been woven for this collection.
To further support the conservation of watchlisted breeds, Margaret offers a limited number of pieces for sale, woven from the wools of these legendary and endangered breeds. Wool availability determines what pieces are woven and all are distinctive in color, texture, design, and life story.