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.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Can you knit?

I LOVE knitting socks. It was challenging to learn how to knit them, but I stuck with it. When learning to knit something new, or even learning the knit and purl stitches themselves, I find that people expect to pick it up really quick. They get frustrated if they cannot do it perfectly right away. Knitting, along with most skills in life, is a skill that takes time and practice to learn. It is bumpy in the beginning. You'll make mistakes. Your knitting won't look like an experienced knitter's piece in the beginning, but it is beautiful anyway. Trust yourself to learn. Trust that with forgiveness of your inexperience, that you too can become a great knitter. Save your beginning knitting so you can look back at it and see very concretely how much you've improved. I have a hard time convincing new knitters of these things. They want to learn how to knit perfectly NOW and they don't want to save anything, unconvinced they'll see any difference.

I often tell my new knitting students how in times past, girls and boys learned to knit from teachers who were helping them frequently, and how those students learned at a young age, practicing sometimes for a few years. Children would learn as young as four or five years of age, of course with forgiveness of their newness and mistakes as their fingers learned the dexterity and coordination. By the time they were nine or ten years old, they'd become the primary sock knitters for the family, expected to keep the family well supplied with socks through the long winters. In times past, people understood that it takes time to learn something new and become good at it. Mistakes were ok, and often vaporized as skill increased. (That is a really fun moment!!!)

The most disheartening thing I experience in conversations with other people about knitting is this..."I tried that but was no good at it" or "someone tried to teach me once but I just couldn't get it". If you are one of those people, you need a new teacher! A good teacher will tell you right away that knitting is a skill that takes time to learn and daily practice, even if it's just a few minutes. Mistakes are expected. Muscle memory can do wonders for you! You will me! Everyone can become a good knitter, and I urge you to try! Hang in there! Improvements come faster than you think. But it will be bumpy at first. Expect it, embrace it! It will be sooooo worthwhile!

The socks above came from this fleece (my ewe, Iris -- see Iris blog in July postings). I washed the fiber, then spun the yarn on my Lendrum wheel. The gray socks are 2-ply yarn with an accent purply blue yarn knitted in the cuff and heel flap along with the gray. I LOVE these socks! They are soooooo soft! I've worn them for two winter seasons now for all my winter chores. The underside of one sock has a small hole in it now but the other is still going strong! (My expensive Eddie Bauer wool socks only lasted part of one winter season...frustrating!) The red socks are the same yarn, only dyed in the skein with fruit punch Kool-Aid. They were so bright on a dreary winter day! Fast favorites, too. I did not card the wool. I know that makes some of you squirm, but really, carding is not always necessary when spinning shetland fiber and yes, you get a strong and beautiful yarn. :)

Here is a picture of yarn I spun on my drop spindle, then dyed with lemonade Kool-Aid. The color so reminded me of my Grandmother's daylilies! This beautiful daylily (handed down from her garden and moved with me many times) has a fragrance...yes...hard to believe as most don't. That fragrance puts me right back into her garden as the girl I once was, playing dress up in frilly dresses and sniffing lovely roses and daylilies while she baked peach pie. I cannot bring myself to knit up this lovely yarn so I admire it from my cabinet whenever I happen to look that way.
NEW: You can now leave comments on my blog! Do you knit? Have you always wanted to knit? Leave a comment!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Amy-I like your yellow yarn!

    Did you know that Rena Douglas (a Scottish Shetland breeder) spins in the grease from the uncarded locks. She washes her yarn after she is done.