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 1, 2012

Moorit Shetland Socks

 Beautiful Socks!

Of course, this farm is loaded with cozy socks!  Here is another pair I'm making.  They are from Wheely Wooly Lacey, a ewe born on our farm.  The socks are from Melinda Goodfellow's pattern called "Classic Socks for the family"  You can find the pattern at Yankee Knitter Designs.  However, as usual, I always throw in simple changes depending on my mood and available yarn at my fingertips!  For example, I threw in a color change on the cuff, and I changed the cuff design just a bit.  Then I added the dyed color back in on the heel flap.  This not only reinforces the sock's strength (for slipping feet in and out of muck boots many times a day), but adds a very pretty element when the sock is on the foot.  Sometimes, I add color near the toe as well, but usually, I wear slip on shoes so only the heel has an opportunity to be seen.  The brown color, is of course, the lovely moorit color of the sheep who grew the wool and is all natural.  If you look at the picture closer, you'll see the lovely variation in the color.  THAT is what I love about handspinning!  Spinning this on a wheel preserves that lovely color where machines would wash out the color to a plain brown.  The yarn is a fingering weight and is being knitted on size 3 double point needles. 
Beautiful Ewe!

Here is beautiful Lacey!  This picture was taken last fall, when she was not a year old yet.  She has grown into a lovely ewe!  She is very feminine, long legged, with good bone, level topline, nice tail, and gorgeous fleece.  I also just found out that the reason her mother is not registered with NASSA is because of a dispute her breeder had with other sheep.  The breeder got in trouble and is no longer a breeder.  The ewe I bought has a history I didn't know about.  Turns out, there are other Shetland breeders who have been in trouble as well, some right here in Wisconsin.  I guess that goes with the territory when people try to take the "heirloom" out of a breed and modernize it with short crimpy wool!  If you are not breeding true to the standard, there are consequences!  Lacey is out of Wooly Bear, our top ram.  He is throwing very fine soft fleeces and outstanding friendly temperaments.  Her fleece is longish and wavy, fine and soft.  Her poll and cheeks are nice and woolly, she's clean legged, has proper ears, proper snout, and good conformation.  You'll see LOTS of Lacey's on the hill in the Shetland Islands! 

So...I love sheep!  Can you tell?  Lacey was born on our farm, lives on our farm, I sheared her myself with handblades on June 1st, processed the wool here at home, then spun the yarn (most of which will be on sale this week at market), then knitted a pair of socks with it.  I love every step!  I love the whole process.

I hope you enjoyed reading about Lacey and her cozy socks!  If you'd like to make socks with Wheely Wooly Farm yarn, you'll need two skeins.  Ball up each skein...each ball becomes a sock, with a little usually left over.  Find yourself a nice pattern...simple or lacy or elaborate.  Socks are such a fun garment to make and the designs are endless!  There are patterns everywhere you look!  Find them in books, magazines, the internet, everywhere!  I enjoy Melinda's pattern so much because she wrote it with such clarity and sense that it's easy to follow, easy to modify, and easy to make socks for any size, any need.  Good luck, and see you at the market!

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