Shetland Sheep: Rich in History, Rich in Textiles

Shetland Sheep: Rich in History, Rich in Textiles! Our farm mission is to enjoy and promote the wonderful diversity of the Shetland breed by fully utilizing to the best of our ability all they have to offer historically. We believe the best preservation and management of this breed includes it's full spectrum of history. We encourage old and new shepherds alike to join in the fun by engaging in fiber arts, especially spinning and knitting, as this breed is so intimately linked with those aspects of the arts.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


As a child growing up, there were very clear boundries of who knit, who crocheted.  North of the river that dissects that city, were knitters.  South of the river, crocheters.  Period.  Growing up, that's how I thought life was everywhere.  Wealthy people knit for leisure, poor people crocheted sofa blankets as visuals of warmth.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

The very idea that only certain classes of people could do just one or the other is crazy.  Nor is it historical.  Knitting and crocheting do not know social/economic/political boundries, only people do.  People are forever trying to put boundries on the needle arts, extending not just with who should be knitting or crocheting...and who shouldn't be, but who should pick up sewing thread and needle, or spinning as well.  This shepherdess thinks that is pure craziness.

The real truth...and the real history of the world is NOT that!  Men sew, and can be experts at it, and LOVE it.  Same is true with yarn.  Men work with yarn and love it and can be experts in it.  So to with who has money, who doesn't.  Poor people have been very good at either, or both, and in fact have been experts at it, even if they lived on the wrong side of the river.  And wealthy people can reveal amazing deficits and ineptitudes.  Spinners are all, women, children, single, married, rich, poor, or whatever else you can think of.  People all over the world spin...every day.

So what is the truth about knitting, crocheting, and other needle arts or spinning?  That people around the world have defied constant attempts to categorize.  They learned and did what they needed to know, wanted to know and wanted to create.  They've done what works for them, what is easy for them and their circumstances, with their resources.  This truth is evident in many ways...such as shepherds 'crocheting' or men tailoring, or poor laundresses' knitting and crocheting with amazing perfection and skill...for 'fun', or queens spinning and crocheting.

I don't think my education growing up acknowledged the real world and it's plain truths.  I was 'educated', but not really.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

What is Shepherd's Knitting?

Did you know that once upon a time, as shepherds were out tending their flocks in northern latitudes, they worked on projects to pass the time?  You would think they were knitting, as so many people think of knitting and sheep going together like peanut butter and jelly.  It is surprising to learn that knitting is not what some of them were doing...rather, they were crocheting! 

While wool and textiles go back ages, crochet has a fascinatingly short history that is not super clear.  It pops up in unusual places, such as in say...Scotland...with shepherds watching over their flocks.  With a simple stick that contained a carved hook on the end (there is debate about the tool they used), garments were made to help them stay warm.  They used techniques that most resemble today's crochet...not exactly the same, but close.  It was called 'shepherd's knitting'.

As snow and cold whip the trees outside here on the farm, page after page is turned in fascination.  The sheep are asleep, but the shepherdess is not!  How can one sleep with such interesting world history at one's fingertips?!?

Some of the sheep opened a gate in the barn the other day and were having a little party back and forth in the aisle.  As I gathered them up and put them back, I couldn't help but get excited about their fleeces.  Soft, long, warm...they will be easy to shear!  Soon we will be able to start...maybe in just a few weeks!  Can't wait!  In the meantime, when a spare quiet moment comes along, back to page turning!

Many, many skeins have come off the wheel lately, including Misty, some of Beatrice, Daisy, and some Oxford I picked up from someone.  That yarn will not come with a sheep's name, as ten sheep contributed to the batch, of which Wheely Wooly Farm does not own.  The yarn is thick, cushy, and outstanding for socks, mittens, or super warm hats!  It won't be ready for awhile yet, but watch for it, it will be coming soon!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

New Beginnings...Daisy as a Lamb

Sweet, sweet Daisy!!

The new year is a time celebrated as a period of renewal, of a fresh start, of starting again.  What a great time to look back at lamb pictures!!  We thought you'd enjoy this.  Here is little Daisy, as a lamb just about three or four days old.  She was born in February, in the midst of a lambing burst here on our farm, but she was not one of ours.  Born into a large flock of someone we knew, a call came asking if we'd like her.  The shepherdess was in an exhausted slumber under the favorite temporary recovery spot...the sofa, under the down sleeping bag rated for below zero...trying to recover from a blitz here.  How fast can one say yes?!?  We knew she was special before we had even seen her.

We hadn't had much snow by that time.  And since she was a sole lamb, she needed friends, so we put her in with the baby goats.  My!  How they loved to play!  They got along beautifully!  In the afternoons, we'd take them outside if it was warm and calm.  They'd all tear around, loving the good footing of the grass.  Pine trees were very interesting.  They smelled nice, were nice and green like they knew something should be, but they didn't feel good!  One little poke and back went the ears, trying to figure out why that hurt!

Today, Daisy is a well loved ewe in the flock.  She has a distinctive baa, so you can pick her out without even seeing who's baaing.  She follows you around and loves attention.  We adore her, and all the beautiful lambs she's provided us with!  Rosebud and Peony's yarns are currently available, two of her lambs.  On the wheel right now is Daisy's fleece, all fluffy and so appealing, it's hard to resist!

As the new year unfolds, it's so much fun to go back and remember the moments when our beautiful sheep were babies!  We hope you enjoyed seeing Daisy as a lamb!  Happy New Year everyone!  

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Beautiful Frosty Mornings!

Morning sunshine highlights complexity of frosty crystals.

Winter peace has settled upon the landscape of Wheely Wooly Farm.  Snow covers the ground while the temperature dips.  The sunshine is bright as it glints through the frosted window panes, showing diamond-like fire in the ice!  It's so pretty, one can't help but slow down for a study of the many shapes of all the crystals when walking by.  Steaming hot coffee...sweet feathered friends hopping about, and warm toes snuggled in wool socks all toasty warm!  

As the day goes on, we bustle about.  Hats, scarves, sweaters and mittens for the barn, then all over again for going off to the city, then all over again to check on the flock once more.  Just as the frost grows and wanes on the window panes, so too do the layers we don for each step of the day.

What?  Don't have your Wheelspun Yarns yet?  Check out the store for many colors and now patterns, too!  Take out your hooks and needles, make a toasty beverage, and settle into making some warmth for yourself and your family!  You'll be so glad you did!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Peace and Joy To All!

The shepherds and flock of Wheely Wooly Farm wish all of you a very happy Holiday Season, full of joy and peace!  We will be taking some time off now for rest, after a very busy year.  However, the online store will remain open all through the holidays and will be checked frequently for your orders.  Thank you for your support in 2017!  It is an honor to bring you fine yarns straight from the farm and we hope you find peace and happiness while making nice things from the yarn!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Scarves FINALLY in the store!!

Smoky Mountain Sunrise

Please forgive us for taking so long to get the scarves in the online store!  Here is the start of them...with at least three photos of each to see in the description of each scarf.  For warmth with style, we spin style and performance together!  Click here to enter store:

(What clown forgot to remove the date stamp on the camera?!?  I guess sheep farms are not really photography studios...)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Sock Knitting Season is upon us!

For the best sock yarn you'll ever find, check out the Wheely Wooly Farm store!  There you'll discover bulkier yarns for heavy boot socks or super comfy house socks, such as Beatrice, Misty, or Lil' Dipper.  For socks that will fit into clogs or shoes, look for worsted yarns, which is nearly all the rest of the yarns in the store.

WHY have cold feet, when you can be warm?  Click our website to the right to find the store.