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, December 16, 2009

I can't believe I'm...

...putting a picture of my feet at work out in cyberspace! Years ago, before people even had microwaves, surely no one was talking about doing something like this!

The socks are from my ewe, Gwendolyn. She's a moorit Shetland, but is lightening up to a musket-ish color. The boots are for muck. They go nearly up to my knees, and are not intended to be for snow. I used to wear Sorrel boots, especially when I lived in the mountains of Colorado. I was getting tired of taking soaked wool liners out to dry every night, and trying to stuff stiff liners back into the shells before I could go back out in the morning. Then, one day I had to rush out the door in snow so quick, I stuffed my feet into these boots. They are very fast in and out. Ta-da! Warmth! No wet liners! Now I wear them all winter, and I don't know where my favorite Sorrels are. I know all of you are reading this like a riveting novel! lol
This was given to me just before I left for my Colorado adventures all those mannnnnny years ago. The woman who made it was not wealthy, nor highly educated. She raised a family and worked menial jobs. Yet, she learned to knit beautifully with those horrible yarns of those days! The stitches are perfect, and the whole afghan is put together strongly and with skill. I didn't care for the colors, and color is what teens care about, right? But I packed it in my suitcase, and away to the mountains I went. The very first night on the train, I was miserable. I was terribly sick with a cold, I had no voice, a terrible headache, was freezing cold, and the train rocked hard as we screamed across Nebraska and clanging train crossings. I wrote a note to the bellman about really, really needing my suitcase. He took me to a luggage area, where I zipped open the huge outer pocket and pulled this afghan out. It was like love from home. Back in my seat, I snuggled under it's warmth (a little plastic warmth!), and felt so much better, I actually fell asleep!
Here is a close up of the flower. I've seen this pattern in knitting magazines, and I always meant to get a copy, but busyness keeps me from accomplishing that right now. Today, I marvel at what an accomplished knitter she was, and what knitted things can do for someone. We have really come a long way in fibers available to people! I can only imagine what she could have done with the wools I produce here on my farm today. The knitter of this afghan passed away some time ago. She would have been a great teacher for me. I strive to break the generation gap today by voicing frequently the need for older knitters to link up with younger knitters! I also strive to teach kids how to spin and knit. The students I've worked with have given me great joy and I cannot wait to help them on their next projects! I hope many of you out there will do the same and try to connect with youth to spread the joy of fiber and knitting!
This is what is on my wheel today, more lovely dyed Shetland yarn! For those of you who've followed my blog for awhile, you know I wrote about putting pictures of my now gone dogs here on my blog. I'm struggling with that. Christmas is so close. That makes it even harder for me, as we bought our second dog as newlyweds, just before christmas. As a puppy, he played under the christmas tree, skidded in the snow, and learned to ask to go outside by jingling the christmas bells on the door nob with his then, very short nose ( didn't stay short!!). He may have been "just" a dog, true. But my heart is still broken, and we miss him dearly. I'm sorry, but I cannot look at those pictures right now.


  1. Oh, Amy! I love your tale of the Shetland socks! You have such a subtle sense of humor. ;-) I would LOVE to know how to knit a pair of socks like those with my home-spun Shetland yarn.

    I so know what you mean about not being able to post photos of your 'lost' dogs. Every once in a while, when I'm going through all my old albums looking for a particular photograph, I'll come upon a picture or group of pictures of one of the animals that I've lost (mostly Buddy and now Candy) and it still brings a tear to my eyes and my heart just cringes. I don't think the sadness will ever go away. But we do at least have other loves to help us carry on and bring us joy today and in the future. For me the hardest part of having animals of any kind is loving them so much, knowing that I will someday have to say good-bye.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Nancy! We lost the last of those three dogs to age back in April. I knew then I might not ever heal enough to get another dog. I'm amazed at how much time has passed without a new dog. However, my mind has been mulling around about the possibility, so we'll see.

    My next blog will be about spinning and knitting Shetland socks...including which pattern I use. A good pattern is the key, so watch for that! Once you wear Shetland wool on your feet, you'll realize how cold you used to be! And I many calories am I burning with all that foot wiggling in the soft wool? :)