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.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Pretty Spring Shetland Shawl

Well, this is certainly not a professional picture, but here is the shawl I had worked on lately.  The wool is from my favorite Shetland ewe, Iris.  I had hand sheared her, spun up her nicest wool, and put it out for sale.  It sold really fast, which is a good thing, because one of the things about this job is that it's VERY tempting to take wool back off the sale tables to knit up myself!

The rest of the wool, near her britch, was saved for my own use at another time.  This winter, I spun it up into a worsted 2-ply, wound it into balls, and placed it all in a basket.  After pondering for a bit, I decided to try a new start knitting like I do when making cotton dishclothes, and see where that lead me!  I had no sense of direction, just that I wanted to knit.  

As the piece grew, I switched to a larger circular needle.  The cold winds howled outside as I quietly worked.  The warmth of the wool was very cozy as it grew larger and larger, filling my lap.  I even took it along with me when I traveled, as it folded up nicely for each trip.  When it was large enough, I simply cast off along the neck edge, and left it just as it is...simple, plain, pretty.

After washing it nice to block the yarn, I made three lovely crocheted flowers from leftover yarn.  I hand sewed them on, then used green wool from a Shetland wether that was dyed in Kool Aid for the stems.  The stems are hard to see here, but in real life, they are bright and pop out in a lovely way, giving more balance to the design.  Then, I embroidered my initials on the lower right.  Unfortunately, you cannot see that in the picture!  In real life, it looks like a lovely spring bouquet, set off by Iris's beautiful soft grey fleece.

The piece is very warm to wear, and looks so pretty hanging on a chair!  I once had read that Tasha Tudor had a shawl hanging on the back of nearly every chair in her house for anyone who happened to sit in that chair to use if chilled.  I thought that was a great idea, and my sheep provide lovely wool for the task! 

I'm going to make another one to display this summer.  It's going to be from a ewe named Esther.  Esther's wool is black with some white in it, very lively, very soft.  I can't WAIT to knit this shawl!  Esther's yarn is so lovely with a variety of crocheted flower colors, that I'm sure I'll have trouble deciding which ones to pick.  Such problems!

In the meantime, I'm trying to knit up a pair of socks for a neighbor!  He helped us recently when we needed it, and in asking what we could do for him, he surprised us with a very rapid chirp for Shetland wool socks, and even gave the size he needed right away!  We are very grateful for the help he's given us recently, and in times before that, so I'm more than happy to knit those socks!  That's what I'm knitting now...AND I'm knitting on something else that's special!  You'll have to wait for the blog on that one though to find out what it is!  Please be patient...for I need size 5 double points to finish it, and I don't have any!  The ones I want will have to be ordered, so it might take time for those needles to get here.

Back to my knitting!...

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