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, December 1, 2011

Take Joy! Crown of Glory Shetland Lace

Crown of Glory Shetland Lace with Shetland yarn

Such joy in knitting can truly be found! The Crown of Glory lace pattern was a favorite of the women of Shetland. The main pattern has a large opening, with six yarn overs above it to give the appearance of a crown. Lovely! Some called it Cat's Paw, for it does give that impression as well. The women of Shetland utilized their creative energy to change slightly each pattern, giving each woman or group of women in a small area a knitting identity. So fun!!!

My Crown of Glory Shetland lace is knitted with light worsted weight yarn I handspun on my wheel here on the farm. I obtained the wool from the first little lamb born here, little rock-hopper Pumpkin, whom I sheared myself. It was through aching tears that I did so, for Pumpkin had become entangled in the fence in the night and I lost him. His horns, his fleece, and his personality were all crowns of glory. Even his gait, the flow of his fleece, the brightness of his eyes, and the glow of his heart were all glorious. Pumpkin's fiber is a stunningly beautiful, rich, chocolately mocha color of rich gleam, and it's very soft. The women of Shetland typically knit this lace in a much finer gauge of yarn. I'm using a larger gauge two-ply so it can be worn in heavy farm chores through wicked winters. I chose the Crown of Glory pattern to help remember Pumpkin by. His yarn, this skein, won a blue ribbon at the fair last summer.
...the needles wait for me...

I love knitting this on a 16 inch circ. needle. It's peaceful, relaxing, and reflective knitting. I can't help but think of the women who went before me, who also made these stitches under gray November skies, who also reflected on their lives while the yarn moved through their hands. History is not as far away as we think...

Little Annabelle, The Official Sheepdog's ornament, just for her

Some of you know that our little Annabelle, a breed not of tending sheep, longed to be a real sheepdog someday. One day, she had her glorious moment of 'tending sheep', and has since held the high status of "Sheep Dog". One to frequently leap over furniture at top speed, ears flying, we couldn't resist this perfectly appropriate sparkly ornament that so aptly describes her heart! It gleefully graces our tree each year, bringing giggles and happy memories. We love our dogs.

The season is passing into peace and darkness now. All is truly calm, the skies are gray, the birds are quiet...well...not counting the perky chickadees in the lilac shrub! The sheep quietly eat their hay and meander around their winter pasture with a sense of calm. Wooly Bear quietly feasts on his latest pumpkin, with orange mush all over his horns and poll....a happy fella with his pumpkins and girls.

As I settle into the house to cozily knit by the fire, I breathe in deep the fragrance of the pine just feet from me. My hands quietly take up my knitting, and my mind quietly slips into times past. I can't help but take joy in these small things, things that have been repeated by people over generations, and centuries. The commonality of human nature, our basic needs, doesn't change. We are all the same.
This month, I'm celebrating simple things, and as Tasha Tudor taught us, to take joy! For joy can be found everywhere, all around. Farms can create a heavy heart when loss strikes, but mostly, farms are places of much joy and happiness...glee and bounce...giggles, chaos and silliness. How could I ever capture that on camera? The joy that animals take every day is worth emulating. They see it. Can we?

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