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.

Monday, October 31, 2011

How this works

How this works:

1. Vote for diversity and everyone wins. Long, short, wavy, crimpy, everyone works for the future. Vote for the camp and nearly 31 years of importation and history, including the Dailley family's import history and flock, as well as the Doane's passionate work to bring the Shetland sheep to America are all discarded, thrown away.

2. Vote diversity and all members are valued, appreciated, supported, and accepted. Vote camp and see intensified censorship, control, hostility, crossbreeding, attorney's fees, and decreased membership.

3. Vote diversity and nothing is lost, for all win and retain value and support in their flocks. Vote camp and much is lost, with huge numbers of flocks and history losing.

4. Vote diversity and retain respect from other credible organizations striving to maintain diverse genetic pools for ourselves and our future shepherds. Vote camp and take credit for vastly narrowing the gene pool to one narrow kind of questionably Shetland sheep, and hence throwing out respect from other leading experts.

5. Vote diversity and retain the genuine fiber that created the famous textiles Shetland women became so famous for, thus honoring them by protecting what they passed forward to us. Voting camp dishonorably throws out that genuine fiber to something much narrower, that was never used for fair isle, bed caps, stockings, gloves and mittens, daily wear such as jumpers and vests, or weaving.

6. Vote diversity and genuinely protect this outstanding breed of sheep, preserving it's exceptional attributes into the future. Vote camp, and throw that all away.

That's how it works.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Great work, Don!!

1. Great work, Don! Thank you for bringing your years of experience back to NASSA, and sharing with us. NASSA is facing a huge problem, that of an aggressive group of newer shepherds teaching people that the genuine Shetland sheep is a hairy Icelandic or crossbred throwback to be culled, in an attempt to get rid of genuine sheep for a shiny new breed. Thank you for clarifying to the unknowingly misled that genuine Shetland sheep are NOT the nearly naked sheep with puny fleeces this aggressive group insists them to be!!

1.a. ...and thank you to your wife for that keepsake handbook! The 2004 NASSA Handbook has many great photos of genuine Shetland sheep in it. I treasure it, because I know it's been censored out of the NASSA literature. That's a shame! I'm sure many new shepherds would appreciate it just as I did when I was new (and still do). If you are a new shepherd reading my post, ask NASSA for a copy of the 2004 NASSA Handbook and see for yourself some great photos of beautiful sheep, the three wool types, and the types of things made with the wool!

2. Our President, Mike, deserves a huge compliment for doing what he promised, that of bringing a cool head to the board. Boy, did we ever need a cool head to deal with a bunch of inflamed thieves who have stolen the Shetland breed right out from under the membership's feet!! Just as he has done with his awesome and beautiful flock, he is doing with our organization...great work! Thanks, Mike, for bringing integrity back to NASSA! I feel so bad that you have to work with such constantly difficult, inflamatory, and argumentative people on the board! They've brought much embarrassment to NASSA. Clearly, they do not care about the people, or the sheep! They just want to feed on control! You have stayed strong through some nasty punches, and we all appreciate you! Appendix A will fall fast when the time comes.

3. I'm really overdone with the loss of intrigity to our breed organization by the supporters of Appendix A. Their censorship, exclusion, lack of respect, and lies are old. Really old. It's like high school cliques revisited! Supporting Appendix A people is like supporting their bad behaviors. Can our organization take any more of their ongoing fighting (screaming)? Ongoing censorship? Ongoing attitudes that the membership is too stupid to be informed or participate? Ongoing misuse of NASSA funds for their ongoing hefty legal bills, because if they don't get their way, they screech and claw for their attorneys? How tired the attorneys must be of hearing from them!!

4. I joined NASSA for fun, and it has been fun for me. A wise person once stated that competition makes you stronger. I certainly feel that way. I'm against Appendix A, for it takes the genuine out of the sheep, and puts a nearly naked one in it's place. I've enjoyed the search for answers competition demands, with one particular conversation with Carole (Dailley) Precious the most outstanding. In that talk, she described the early flock and her flock as the years passed. It was as though I was looking out the window at my own flock. It was an amazing moment for me. I've sought answers from many very experienced shepherds. I've learned a lot, and it has all been outstandingly fun!

5. Whichever way the outcome of this election goes, not much will change here on Wheely Wooly Farm, for I have been well coached by the most well qualified Shetland producers here in North America and abroad on what the genuine Shetland sheep is. That is the sheep we will continue to produce, and that is the fiber we will continue to make available to our customers. The gorgeous, unique fleeces and colors sell themselves. What's there to 'improve'? Nothing! Nearly naked sheep feels like a 'deprovement' to me!

6. Our commitment to our customers remains the same. We will strive to produce beautiful, soft, colorful yarns perfect for knitting and even more perfect to wear, without compromising handle and strength. Diversity is the key to our farm's success. Maintaining that diversity has brought our farm respect from the most amazing places I never would have dreamed of. I've learned that narrowing genetics is not respected. Appendix A will fall fast when the time comes. The judge's packet will be changed back to protect diversity and historical elements of the breed. Correct photos will be put back in place, and faith in our organization will return.

7. And now, I'm going to go out and kiss my very wooly sheep! ........ Ok...well, maybe I'll wait until AFTER breeding season!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fluffy, Poofy Sheep!

Oh, I love the rain! Yesterday, we had a cozy, steady rain most of the day with warm temps and quiet wind. The air was so fresh and fragrant with autumn freshness, I found myself lingering every time I went outside. I gave the rams extra chin scratches, watched the hens peck around longer (in the coop), and found myself drawn to watching the sheep graze contentedly while the rain gently poured down. Swifty was enjoying it as well, for Border Collies love wet weather! He bounded through the tall grasses, sailed down the 'back four', and dove after flippies (dog frisbees), ears to the sky unless in an all out run. As the rain fell hour by hour, I watched as fleeces dripped, dripped, dripped. I knew this rain was like a car wash for sheep! This is a shearer's dream...nice clean, rain-washed fleeces! Then, I heard the forecast for today...wind! Yippee!

Today, as the wind wiped around and gusted, leaves skittered everywhere, trees bent over, and the chickens ran for cover. And there were the sheep...still grazing contentedly like nothing has changed! Only this time, instead of dripping water off the fleeces, the wind has blown the fleeces dry like fluffy, poofy little powder puffs!!
My poofy powder puff, Maewyn
She's so pretty!

Sigh...I love Shetland sheep!!

EDIT: Like many, many farm booths, we are not at the market today due to the high winds. Please feel free to email us or call if there are yarns you were planning on picking up today, as I'm sure we can get them to you. I have six new skeins of Cosmo ready to go (the last of his lamb's fleece)...first come, first serve! There are also 2 Sunrises available today but act fast if you want them. They sell out right away. Also, if you were planning on picking up needles today, just email us or call and we can get them to you as well. Hope to see you next week!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mr. Handsome...

Cute pony. Warm sun. Green grass.
Life is good!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

'...grow an outer coat of hair...'

"The climate is perpetually moist and the sheep grow an outer coat of hair in addition to the exquisitely fine, soft wool. The sheep are not shorn; the wool is 'rooed', i.e. plucked, in July. It is sad that the decline in demand for this very beautiful wool, coupled with the drive to produce more meat, has led to the introduction of Blackfaces and Cheviots and the pure-bred Shetland is fast disappearing. No wool is more rewarding for the handspinner and knitter."

Your Handspinning by Elsie G. Davenport, copyright 1953, page 27

Good stuff!!! I could read this all day. Here is yet another source describing the genuine Shetland sheep. Notice the mention of HAIR? So typical. Just like Mr. Bowie, Sr. wrote vehemetly, if it doesn't have tips, it's not Shetland!

I like reading this stuff because I feel very connected to generations past when I spin this fiber. Genuine Shetland fiber has passed through the hands of many women. This spinner described the very fiber I'm growing on my pastures today. We both love spinning, and are both fascinated with excellent spinning fibers. Yet we are a generation...or two...apart. I'm very thankful people like Ms. Elsie G. Davenport took the time to write about her passion. Genuine Shetland fiber is indeed a pleasure to spin.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A wolf in sheep's clothing

Watch out...there's a wolf amongst us...can you tell who it is? I was reading the board candidate responses in the newsletter that just came today, and I got a good chuckle out of one of them! It's written by someone who has read my blog a lot, quite frequently in fact. Can you find the wolf in sheep's clothing? (giggle, giggle)

Wheely Wooly Cosmo's Fiber

Longish, wavy joy!!

Here are the photos of Cosmo's fleece. It's his lamb's fleece...he was a nearly black sheep before shearing, but after being sheared, he was a soft, light grey...seemingly white! His face and legs remain a beautiful black. Shetlands are SOOOO fun!

Color change!

Here, you can see the soft, light grey on the underside of his fiber. It's fine and soft. The two colors together make for a very interesting and appealing yarn! I know many of you are waiting for me to get this spun up, and I still hope to get that done by Saturday, but I'm not sure I can finish it by then. It might not be ready until next week, then.

It's so fun to work with the dynamics of Shetland color! I do like the dyed colors, too, but these natural colors are just amazing! We now have a little soft grey sheep out there!

Next! Today I'm shearing Gracelyn again, for I cannot WAIT to get her lovely fiber again! I sheared her last in February...a little too early but I really wanted her fiber. Since handshearing leaves the sheep with a lovely protective layer of wool to keep them warm, she did fine. Now, I can shear her again for more lovely spinning, and it's a beautiful warm day to do so. All of the yarn made with the last shearing is sold out except for one smaller skein left.

Happy knitting!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

My kitchen floor...

Is it time for my first ever wordless post????? Am I capable of a wordless post???????

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Very Tired!

What a wonderful weekend we've had! Both Saturday and today, we've been out selling yarn, at two different events. Both mornings were quite cool, but the sun was out and the music was on! Today was absolutely beautiful. Was sure nice meeting so many new knitters! Cosmo is now sold out (that sure went FAST)!! However, I do have some here at home I'm spinning, so I'll have a little more in the future. Gracelyn is also near sold out, with just one small skein left. Lerwick has only a couple of skeins left. Be sure to check your patterns, and don't wait if you saw a yarn you like!

Happy knitting!