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, August 24, 2011

Blue Ribbon Shetland Fiber

Here is the Cat's Paw Lace Scarf I made from Wooly Bear's fleece. Some of you who've followed my blog all along might think I'm bragging or something, for I know you've seen it before...giggle, giggle! Don't forget we have new people coming on all the time, and this time the picture is up per request. The scarf was entered in the garment made with handspun fiber class, which was judged by the sheep judge, not the knitting judge. The fiber was the main component, as was the preparation of the fiber, spinning, and knitting skill. It was really fun to work on a project straight out of the Shetland Islands, with real Shetland wool! This is why I designed handspinning classes in my Shetland Showcase (stolen and dubbed Handy Shepherd by MSSBA) at the WI Sheep and Wool get the fiber BACK into the hands of knitters. You can change the breed's fleece into something shorter and more consistent, but that changes characteristics of the fiber that currently cannot be measured scientifically. What a shame to throw that away! I'm thankful that even though my idea was stolen, it WAS implemented and people are beginning to reconnect high quality genuine Shetland fiber (i.e. longish and wavy) with the textiles (fair isle, socks, gloves, mittens, tams, sweaters, and speed knitting, along with the least often knitted lace shawls). Shetland fiber has fame in it via lace, but it truly is a working fiber for working clothes. It has amazing characteristics to it that makes it extremely comfortable to wear. If you haven't knit with it yet, don't wait any longer! Get the real deal, longish and wavy fiber that is soft and fine and I'm sure you won't want to knit with anything else after that experience! (giggle, giggle again!)

Back to here at the farm. Two zipper spiders have moved into the Black-eyed Susans in front of the barn while other webs are forming ALL over the place each night. So in between spinning and harvesting, I'm sweeping webs from the barn, shed, and coop! That's a lot of sweeping......

What's on my bobbin today? Mona. Her fiber is a joy to spin and the color is a beautiful black, not the dark brown Shetland color, but black. I knit a beautiful swatch from that fiber, but am still spinning singles from her fleece. I've also been busy spinning some other fibers as well, and combining them with my Shetland wool in combination knit/crochet garments. So lovely! My knitting projects are selling right off the needles before I can finish them lately. The weather has been refreshing to report that we are not having unruly weather!!! The grass is still green and great for grazing. The little boys are on their own now. Wheely Wooly Splash is a knockout! He has the finest wool our farm has produced yet, outstanding horns, perfect health and a very gentle temperment. He's now halter trained, and nearly ready to go.

**Edit! I almost forgot! If you are taking sheep to the festival this year, NOW's the time to get those little hooves off pasture and into halter training! It's already getting late, but you could still train a sheep if you practice every day! Remember, Shetlands are only shown in one of two ways....
1. with a SHEEP halter or
2. with no halter
Shetlands are NOT shown in the meat carcass hold!!! That means, DO NOT pull your sheep's head up to the ceiling nor stretch out it's body as if it were already on the meat hooks, headless!! Second, ONLY show your sheep without a halter IFFFFFFFF you and your sheep know each other and are very comfortable together through partnering and frequent handling. People who work frequently with their sheep and have a trusting relationship can do a beautiful job showing an animal halterless. DO NOTTTTT throw your sheep into the back of a pick-up truck fresh off 364.9 days on pasture, and expect yourself OR your sheep to be good ambassadors of the breed! Lasty, DO NOTTTTT put your sheep in dog collars, dog leads, or husky harnesses!!!!!!!!!!!! Work with your sheepies now! The results will make you look more professional. End of edit**

As for harvesting, the peach tree came through for us with a bountiful crop that we treasure! The cucumbers...well...they got a little large.....but we still make pickles out of them for fun! The tomatoes are just now ripening...latest we've ever experienced! We're usually about done with tomatoes by now. The potatoes were outstanding! Onions, outstanding! Raspberries...outstanding! Good garden year. Up next, pears then later, apples and more raspberries...and the sweet corn has been heavenly! Peppers, too! Sigh...I love the garden!

Happy summering everyone!...the summer timer is about to ting!

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