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, March 16, 2010

Bluebirds and Quacks

Oh lovely spring, how joyful it is to see you again! The bluebirds are here! I think this is the earliest I've ever heard them. We've been having weather that just cannot be topped for March. By Thursday, we might hit 70 degrees!! The last few winters, we had yet to break the freezing mark and our snow was deep, with more snow coming...

Since spring is so springy this year, I'm working with springy, bluebird yarn. What could be better than birds and yarn?? Oh Sophie...

I am very happy to report that Lucky the Duck is doing better than ever! He is dabbling in the water now, and seems joyful that spring is here. Now that the swelling has gone down some, we can see that he looks scraped. He also has scrapes on his bill. We are pretty confident he got his head stuck somewhere, rather than a predator attack.
If you look closely, you can see the ruffled feathers on the top of his neck. On the other side, he has a large open area that is healing. You can also see his neck looks, well, crooked and funny. He is still sore, and still has that pouch where his neck goes into his body, but his spirits are up, he's eating, and doing just great! (And he's not exactly photogenic.) When I let him out this morning, both of them ran as fast as they could to the water. It was sure good to see that. And he's quacking! That is the best part. And Lucy? Well, (giggle, giggle) she loves quacking under water and making bubbles.

This is the swatch I knit up from my iset ewe, Lil' Rainbow. The flash really lights up the lighter fibers, but in real life, it looks pretty black. This is a singles yarn so you see twist energy in there. The swatch is all garter stitch, except in the middle, where I did stockinette. It was knitted on a size 2 sock needle.
Next is a picture of the "blue" ram lamb's fiber. He was actually a gray, I think, but hard to say. It was sooooo hard to get a picture of this with my limited camera and flash. In some light, the gray looks gray. In softer light, it takes on a bluish hue, especially if it's by warm wood tones. This, too, is a singles knit up on size 2 needles, all garter stitch.
I had great fun at my knitter's meeting! I had several students all learning. One learned how to rip back to fix a complicated mistake, and how to do yarn overs. Another learned how to knit. Yet another...a six year old sibling waiting....saw this ball of yarn I had there of a sheep I sheared for a neighbor. That ball of yarn really appealed to him. So he started asking questions, and poking arms to get older people's attention, pointing to the yarn and asking how to "use" it. That boy wanted to knit!!! So I asked him if he wanted to. His eyes became very bright and wide...YES...he wanted to try! So we sat down and I showed him on the spot, with my little sheepy poem to help remember the steps. I was floored! He had total control of his fingers and knit to the end of the row! Then, I told him I'd bring a ball of that sheep's yarn next time and he was VERY excited! I think all of this is just amazing! I just inspired a six year old boy to knit with sheep's wool!

(That sheep, BTW, was needing to be sheared last year. I got the call and agreed to help out. When I went to check out the situation, I could tell the sheep had more than one year's growth in his wool. It turns out, it had been three years! The fleece was 18 inches long! And it turns out he was a fully intact ram....a very big ram. He was as docile as could be for me, and I got his wool off nicely, but it took awhile!! The family donated the wool to my 4-H project and my spinning students. This is the wool that appealed to this boy. I think it is amazing how things work out!!)

Another sign of spring? The local drive-in has opened! We notice it like a flock of migrating birds....guess we'll have to pack in some ice cream cones this week. :) They've already been swarmed by spring-hungry ice cream lovers.

In the meantime, I've decided to card the fleece of the other Shetland wether I'm working on. I really don't like taking the time to card because...then I'm not spinning! Oh well, it makes the spinning go faster and the yarn nicer in this case, so it's worth it! Happy Spring!

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