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.

Friday, October 2, 2009

It's so frustrating when...'re a cat, and you live in the house of a fiber-crazed person! (Sophie speaking here..."Maybe if I lay on her yarn so she messes up her tension, she'll stop knitting!....

....maybe if I threaten to bite her yarn, she'll stop knitting!

....OKAY! I'm biting your yarn! Stop knitting and pay attention to ME!"

"Yarn is sooo irresistable! No quiet laps to sit on, for my person is always knitting! But I want to snuggle in that lap, but those pointy needles keep getting in the way and bumping me on my head! So I'll swat at them, or grab the yarn with my mouth, or try to weasel my way inbetween the yarn and my person's face all to get her attention back on me."

Sophie finds it challenging to live here, great at times with blissful play, difficult at times in lack of warm laps. She loves to play with all the yarn. One night, I stayed up late to finish a sock I was working on. I was so tired, that I just went to bed when I was done, forgetting that playful kittens don't sleep at night! The next morning, I awoke to yarn all over the house! She had quite the time swatting the ball of yarn under furniture, around coffee table legs, and into other rooms and back. Then she must have picked up the ball of yarn in her mouth and jumped thru the banister poles onto the open staircase, went up the stairs, dropped the yarn, causing it to roll down a few steps, thru the banister poles and onto the floor, swatted into the kitchen, under the table and chairs legs, back into the living room, under the piano bench legs (with a few twists), and under the sofa. (This must have happened a few times since the yarn went up the stairs and back down in several different places!) It took me over an hour to get that yarn rolled back up!! (...and she had twisted the yarn around the base of a lamp, causing it to fall over and break the shade!) Never again have I left yarn out overnight!

Today, I had the opportunity to visit my favorite book store, one that sells lots of books on knitting and fiber. I grab myself a cup of coffee, sink into the Papa Bear arm chair, and lose myself into the world of pure, quiet concentration, with a stack of books and magazines so heavy I nearly sink into the floor. I found something that excited me greatly...The Art of Fair Isle Knitting by Ann Feitelson (Did I spell her last name correctly?)! Wow!!!! What a book! The very first paragraph in the acknowledgements is her gushing thanks to the women of Shetland. (Yes, I'm one of those people who reads every speck of a book, like someone else would eat every speck of crumb out of a bag of potato chips.)

I would highly recommend this lovely book. It is filled with lovely descriptions of Fair Isle knitting, and the voice of the Shetland women comes through in moving ways. I would love to meet Ann Feitelson! Thank you for your lovely and inspiring work!!!

I must also say that Ann's personal life is one of great study of this very topic of knitting. She seems to have dedicated her life to the subject in serious, careful study. I have a lot of respect for that!

Another good one I found was a new book by Alice Starmore called Celtic Knitting (Not sure that is the exact title name, either!) The patterns were stunning, the pictures extremely appealing...all set outside. My favorite pattern was for a child's sweater based on the Book of Kells illustrations, which added a touch of whimsy. Excellent!

It is also interesting to note that I found a book entitled Icelandic Knitting! It was a very interesting book! The people of Iceland were known for knitting insoles for footwear, replacing them as needed and wearing them for comfort and cush. Hummm...I thought that sounded interesting! I could use some cush in my shoes! Another great book I found was Nancy Bush's book on Estonian Lace (I cannot remember the exact title). I would have brought them all home...problem is, if I had done that, I don't think I'd be able to squeeze in the door anymore! There is a lot of stuff just inside my door as we prepare for farm markets (yarn sales) AND all the stuff coming into the house from the garden and trees...apples, pears, raspberries, zucchini, tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, potatoes and onions, and artemisia to dry in bunches, herbs drying for the angora bunnies winter treats, and so on! Anyway, back to the book...the Estonian lace was breathtakingly beautiful! I love knitting lace! I often tell my new knitting students that a hole made in knitting by accident is called a hole. A hole made on purpose is called lace. They love that! It really helps them feel they are capable of getting the hang of it, and that mistakes are beneficial, not a hindrance. The trick is...only making holes when you're planning on it! Anyway (again), the books were a great joy and after pumping myself up with caffeine, I was ready to return home to all my fiber (and produce!)

Stay tuned for pictures of Esther's yarn. I'm having battery problems with the camera...

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