- Published: 17 February 2014 17 February 2014
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The Company - 'Bensonsrags'
Bensonsrags was started by Ruth in 2002 as an outlet for her patchwork items. After lying dormant for a while, the business has been restarted as a showcase for handmade British wool knitted accessories.
Why the name Bensonsrags?
Well there was once a very special pussycat. He lived life to the full and enjoyed the outside world, but his favourite sleep time was when he curled up on a pile of soft fabric his kind owner had thoughtfully left lying around for him (or so he thought), or a stray ball of wool left lying around would be carefully played with.
Hence the name was born, and although the fabric has been washed and the cat has unfortunately passed away, the name has stuck.
The company is based near Hawes in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales.
My name is Ruth and I was born in Bradford, the 4th generation of a textile family. The family business were Worsted spinners of hand and machine knitting yarn and manufacturers of industrial textiles. I grew up clambering over bales of tops, as I got older helping out in the manufacturing wherever I could. I learnt all the jobs required to spin yarn and loved nothing better than the smell of mill - an indefinable mixture of fibre, oil, grease and dust.
I studied Textile Management at Leeds University and then joined the family business. In 1992 the decision was taken to close the spinning side of the company. Hand knitting was no longer fashionable and the retail industry and consumers wanted synthetic fibres.
The Industrial Textile manufacturing part grew and went from strength to strength allowing the business to be sold on my fathers retirement as a profitable going concern.
I spent the next 14 years raising children and working in finance. In September 2009 we moved to Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales, living on a farm, surrounded by sheep.
In Wensleydale, the farmers breed Mule sheep, some of which are a cross between a Blue Faced Leicester ram and a Swaledale ewe. The Blue Faced Leicester produces some of the finest, softest, wool of any British sheep breed. The resurgence in hand knitting, buying natural fibres, and locally produced products has led to the availability of yarn spun from individual British Breeds.
Wool has amazing qualities:
- It is warm in winter and cool in summer.
- It wicks moisture away from the body.
- It holds water whilst still keeping the wearer warm.
With this in mind I decided to design my own range of accessories using British spun, native British wool yarn.