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, January 5, 2012

I Love Wool!

Iris turns into a cozy shoulder wrap

How did we ever lose sight of the wonders of wool? As a culture, how did we ever forget the benefits wool brings to body and home?

I love wool. The more I raise it, work with it, and wear it, I love it even more. Wool comes off the bodies of sweet Shetland sheep who are a delight to own and care for. The fleeces are densely soft and luxurious. I love petting my sheep on a day like today. Today, it's delightfully warm and sunny out there. The fleeces have warmed up in the sun, and are heavenly soft. I can't WAIT to play with those fleeces when the time comes! Add to the pleasures of petting sweet, soft Shetland sheep by hearing the chickadees flit about on the branches as they play in the dripping, flowing water off the barn roof. True joy in the simpliest, littlest things...

The photo above is of Iris's britch wool from her last shearing. I saved it for myself because it's not the highest quality wool she provides. I spun it into a soft, loosely plied two ply yarn at about a worsted gauge. I'm making it into a shoulder wrap which calls for yarn overs at the beginning of every row. This is a technique I learned on dish cloths years ago. I like this technique because it's terribly simple, and adds a nice decorative edge. Later, when I'm done, I'll crochet off the edge to add some additional embellishment, just for fun. Iris looks so lovely in purple. I might use either a drink mix purple on some of her yarn, or I'll use leftover roving...haven't decided yet.

Another benefit of this project is that it's just knit across the rows after the initial yarn overs. I like that simplicity during the holiday season when everything is so chaotic and busy. I like knitting when things quiet down for a moment, to reflect on the gatherings, fun, and food the holiday times bring. Peaceful knitting during the darkest, most peaceful time of year.

Waaaiiiitttt a minute!!!!! Most peaceful time of year???? Did I write that????? Ha, ha! Let's see, the roosters are crowing like crazy in their cozy, sun-filled coop, the rams are butting heads and galloping around, hopping and leaping in the warm wind today! The ewes are boinging up and down their pen, gleeful to be out on such a beautiful day! Sometimes when I look out the windows, I'll suddenly see one of them just go straight up in the air in pure joy at the nice day. Well, Goldie the farm clown IS sacked out on Annabelle's dog bed! She's left to wonder HOW it happened that the CATS have STOLEN HER cushy pillow! And Swifty is gleefully tearing around the back pastures at full speed, ears back, tongue hanging out in absolute joy! A beautiful, but NOT quiet day, indeed!

Back to wool! Wool is a renewable resource; a CLEAN renewable resource! What a benefit that is! I can improve my land AND provide high performance clothes at the same time! And wool is a high efficiency business if you start out with good livestock. Strive to do your honest best in your breeding program and you'll have very few culls, with years of production. I love wool!

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