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.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Our 2011 Schedule!

The lambs are growing and grazing, the garden is in and already weeded a few times, and most of the flock is sheared. I've waited with three sheep to let them get past their rise before I shear them. I have lots of beautiful yarn coming off my wheel so we are very excited about the upcoming sales season!

So let's start with summer! We'll be attending the same markets as last season so we hope to see you there! Watch for our booth. We'll have yarns from many of the same sheep as last year, plus lamb fleeces from last year's lambs as well. We'll be at these markets nearly to the holiday season, so start thinking about your projects ahead of time! Last year, we had yarn going out for relaxing knitting by the lake in July,' holding onto summer' knitting in August, and then the frenzy of fall, holiday and gift knitting of the latter part of the year. Take out your pattern books and get your projects lined up! Remember, only a couple of skeins can make many kinds of projects! If you'd like lots of skeins for a sweater project, let me know. It's good to look over our fiber and order that ahead. And don't forget that Shetland fiber dyes beautifully! I'll have more of the lighter colors which are great for dyeing, but I will also be bringing many natural colors that are so beautiful mix and matched!

I will also be doing a couple of demos this year. The first one is next Monday already at the 4-H meeting. This will be my second time around on request of the club and our leader. We expect nearly fifty people, so be sure to arrive early for a good seat. I guess it's my turn to give my 4-H speech! Just kidding! The second demo is in the planning stages and will be announced at a later date, so stay tuned for that. I may also plan a demo day at each market. Do you think you'd like that? Let me know.

We'll also be at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival, but probably just as festival goers! Last year, I accidently double booked myself for the Saturday of the festival, something I was not happy that I did. I really wanted to see how my Shetland Showcase (as so many of you know now...stolen and dubbed "Handy Shepherd" by the MSSBA people) would go. Turns out, my sales at my other event were double over my Sheep and Wool Festival sales the prior year, so I think we'll be sticking with our locations from last year, especially since many of you followed us up from the festival the prior year! Plus, with the hostile confrontations that occurred at the Shetland show last year (on Saturday, when we weren't there) I've seriously worried about whether the Shetland part of the festival is a safe family activity. (edit: actually, hearing about those confrontations clinched it for us. We won't be there!) I know we were threatened after our Grand Champ win in 2009, and a different family faced confrontation last year, not to mention threats of lawsuits to others, and angry behavior towards the judge. Considering the anger across our nation, and how quickly things can in the case of one now well known congresswoman, it just makes me uneasy when people get that upset over SHEEP!! The 2010 board for our organization really tried to slam dunk changes to our breed, and while many of them have now been firmly voted OUT, unfortunately, those people are still trying to force their idea of a shiny new Shetland sheep on the membership, even though the membership has clearly voiced they want to stick with genuine Shetland sheep. It doesn't help when one confrontation was by a board member's family, and it doesn't help that a MSSBA show planner has been asked to step down from one of their national organization duties for failing to carry out their duties faithfully, with impartiality. How can an organization function in a situation like this?? I know there has been talk of extra security by festival planners in the Shetland barn this year because of last year's confrontations; rightly so. I hope they do, and keep everyone safe.

Needless to say, it's NOT what I had dreamed for Shetland Showcase! To make matters worse, everybody has been reminded of the true character of this group in that they stole my idea, renamed it, put it on, but never credited me for it all, even though everyone knew it was my dream to restore our breed, organization, safety and fun, and give us new opportunities to enjoy our sheep!!! That didn't earn the MSSBA people any publicity credits either! It's embarrassing. I know that the hard working early people who created our national Shetland sheep organization, and built it up to where it was just a few short years ago never imagined all this could/would happen, as they've voiced in our many conversations. The organization they worked so hard to develop, share and grow has changed. I'm so glad so many members have gotten back involved to try to take back our good name!! However, we clearly see it's going to take time and work. So we'll see you at the festival, but not on Saturday, not this year anyway!

I was also asked to participate in, and sell yarn at an historical event near our farm. I considered this opportunity pretty heavily, and felt honored to be asked. However, I knew there was someone else who would be more suitable for a historical re-enactment, for she has a wheel with all leather parts and has the right outfit to wear. I really hesitate to do historical re-enactments for two reasons. First, Shetland sheep were not known to be in or utilized by people here in my area back in early times. Secondly, I really struggle with people seeing spinning wheels and yarn design as something people only did "in the old days", thinking it's no longer useful to us today. Nothing could be further from the truth! Spinning is just as useful, needed, and fun today as it was in times past!! I'm TIRED of being cold all winter! I'm sooooooo glad to have my cozy and sophisticated Shetland stuff to wear!! And from what I'm hearing from you, our customers out there, you're glad spinning hasn't been lost, too! I LOVE the photos you've sent in!! So fun to see where the yarn goes and the joy it brings you!

So that's a pretty good overview of our 2011 season so far, as some planning takes being closer to the event to finalize. We really hope some of you WILL be brave enough to create some wonderful Shetland things and take them to the Showcase! It may have a new name but it's up to all of us to make it into what I have dreamed of all along, a place where smiles return and we go back to enjoying and celebrating the genuine Shetland sheep in all it's facets! Remember! Shetlands are rich in history, rich in textiles! See you at the markets!

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