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.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lovely Gretl

Awhile back, I spun a ewe's (that unfortunately I do not own) neck wool into laceweight yarn. It takes a long time to spin laceweight, but it is always worth it. Then, for the whole month of April, it sat while family and lambing took priority. Now, I can get back to where I left off, so here is what Gretl's lovely lace yarn looks like! (Note: Since Mother's Day is tomorrow, I put my new little sheepy salt and pepper shakers in the photos. They were an early Mother's Day gift to me and I sure LOVE them!!)

Her yarn measures 19 wraps per inch with a softer twist (Note: 19 wpi would be pretty thick...too thick by far... for the traditional Shetland ring shawls. Ring shawls originated in eastern Europe near the Ural Mountains and were originally made famous in the 1700's with the use of cashmere goats amazing undercoats that were combed, not sheared. These popular ring shawl patterns migrated outward with the people, and by the 1800's were being knitted with the fine neck wool of Shetland sheep. I have read that Shetland women who made these ring shawls were excused from outside chores so that their hands stayed smooth, enabling them ease of knitting with this fine fiber at such a tinsy gauge. Therefore, my 19 wpi IS laceweight, but too much grist for a ring shawl).

I had thought of a different project for this yarn in which bloom would be nice. The lower twist allows for more bloom, but the compromise is slightly more delicate yarn. Bloom is generally not desirable in lace, as it can hide your lovely stitches and patterns. Yet, when I saw the Swallowtail Pattern from Evelyn Clark, I decided to use Gretl's lovely yarn for that, even if it blooms! This is how far I have gotten on the knitting. :) (giggle, giggle) I started it late two nights ago, so anxious to begin that I'd even tackle it bleary-eyed. I cannot wait to get back to it!
This is the smaller skein, closer up. The larger one is wound into a yarn ball now.
Haven't gotten very far yet!

It's nearly peak lilac season here on our farm. So, of course, I have a beautiful, fragrant vase full, cut fresh everyday to carry around with me in the house. Why do I carry them around with me? First, I can hardly bear to part with them and their lovely fragrance, and second, so Sophie doesn't tip them over time and again! Lilac season is toooooo short to give up even a minute of enjoying them, and it's not very relaxing to have little grey kitten paws swatting at MY blooms! :) Yes, I've been known to bring them along in the vehicle. DH always reminds me he is entitled to ONE drink holder! (giggle, giggle)

Here is little Wheely Wooly Lerwick, 24 hours after he was born. He had some swelling in his face yet, causing his cheek wool to stick out funny. This picture was taken on April 21st.

Wheely Wooly Pumpkin is fast growing, just like Gracie. However, she will grow taller than him. Pumpkin will be stockier, just like his Mom. He is remaining moorit in color still, while Gracie is starting to change. FUN!
I could spend hours out here with the girls and their lambs!


  1. Your yarn AND your lilacs are so lovely! Lilacs are my favorite flower in the whole world so I know what you mean about treasuring every minute that they are around...

  2. Beautiful yarn. Good luck with the swallowtail. Looking forward to how it turns out.

  3. Thanks! Despite a busy weekend, I have found time to knit up to round 5 of the budding lace repeat. So I'm a little further :)