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, February 18, 2013

Wheelspun Shetland Yarn+Update

Beautiful colors!

All of our yarns are wheelspun for superior quality.  Wheelspun yarns retain the natural properties of the fibers, allowing the breed of sheep to express more of their distinct attributes in knitwear.  This is really important when spinning Shetland, or other breeds with special qualities.  Shetland fibers yield an unmatched lightness and softness to yarns, qualities that are very difficult to find in other breeds.  Wheel spinning the fibers not only keeps the soft lightness in the yarn, the yarns are noticeably nicer when knitting.  For example, you'll notice that the fibers nearly float from one needle to the other.  You'll also notice that when stitching more complex stitches, such as knit three togethers (k3tog), or passing slipped stitch over (psso), the yarn performs in such a pleasing way with elasticity and lightness, as to make the maneuvers very pleasant, rather than tight or difficult.  Wheelspun yarns are very easy to get the tip of the needle into when making a stitch.  They are more workable, more flexible, and more responsive.  

If you are desiring to upgrade your knitting skills, but have found the making of more complex stitches a challenge, you need to try Wheely Wooly Farm's yarns!  If you find yourself struggling to get the needle tip into stitches, you need to try Wheely Wooly Farm's yarns!  If you are tired of pushing the yarn from your left to right hand needle, and hearing that dreadful squeak along the way, it's time you try the natural goodness of Wheely Wooly Farm yarns!  We are sure you won't be disappointed!  If you'd like to knit longer in a sitting, with less or no hand fatigue, you need to try Wheely Wooly Farm's wheelspun yarns!

No doubt about it, wheelspun yarns make knitting more pleasant.  Your hands will experience less fatigue, if any at all.  Your knitting won't squeak or be so tight or unforgiving.  The yarn will feel soft as it moves through your hands, and warm on your lap as your knitting grows.   You can't help but love a yarn that works WITH you!  Most importantly, the way a yarn performs ON the needles is what you get when you WEAR the yarn!  Do you want to squeak when you move?  Do you want to wear clothes that feel tight and unforgiving? How a yarn handles during stitching is exactly how it will handle during wearing.  Do you want to wear clothes that feel like dead weight on your body?  I know a lot of projects made with those yarns don't get finished.  Is it any wonder why?  

We'll have more photos of remaining skeins available soon.  Until then, stash away those unpleasant yarns and get your patterns ready for wheelspun yarns from Wheely Wooly Farm!  

Update:  Rams drifted in!!  Last night, our mild weather (upper 30's and spring-like) turned into quite a storm.  The weather forecast wasn't too serious, just colder air moving in with some light snow.  In reality, it's pretty nasty out there!  Upon rising this morning, I did what I always do, move the lace curtains aside and look out at my boys.  What I saw was worrisome.  Blowing snow, high winds, and deep drifts!  And nobody in sight.  I quickly pulled my winter outerwear on over my pajamas and headed out to check on the rams and wethers in a pasture outside.  It was shocking!  Shetlands will lay down in the snow as a stress/survival mode.  The boys had done that, and some were barely visible!  Wilbur wouldn't turn his head to look at me, nor stand up, nor baa.  I was VERY worried, that is NOT Wilbur!  Wooly Bear was entirely covered with snow, with a swirled drift along his back.  There was an inch of blown snow all over his face and head.  Only his eyes and horns were visible.  Their backs were not buried, but covered entirely with frozen snow.   When I got them to all stand up, Wooly Bear, and tough Lerwick were shaking on their back legs.  So I ran and got a halter.  These boys know this routine well!  On returning to the pasture, I discovered that melted snow and rain had pooled around the bottom of their gate, freezing the gate in solid!  Now what??  The wind was roaring, snow was blowing so hard I could barely see, and the drifts were up to my thighs.  The wind chill is well below zero.  Then, I remembered where we had a gate once, and had "patched" the fence nicely with new wire.  I hiked over there, undid the wire there, and had them leap out, one by one.  They all waited nicely while Wilbur, goof-ball, tangled himself a bit.  I think he was just cold and anxious to get in the barn!  I had the barn door secured wide open, with wind and snow swirling around in the barn aisle.  Carumba watched all this with great interest!  After freeing Wilbur, we all headed to the barn, leaning into the strong wind and plowing through deep drifts.  Wooly was on the halter and behind me...King of the Farm, with all the rest in line behind him and following like well-trained school kids in the hall.  As we came around the corner of the barn and the door was in sight, they shot through the snow and we all blew into the aisle at once!  WHEW!!!!!!!!!!

After I got the door shut, I secured them in a waiting pen. (Wilbur started leaping in the aisle in glee!  Thankfully, he's ok!)  I gave them fresh, warm water and some hay.  I think they'll be pretty tired today.  Rams don't sleep well in conditions like that.  Wooly Bear was soaking up many chin scratches, and Wilbur got a bunch, too!  They sure are nice boys!  I am SOOOO thankful for their good temperaments, halter skills, and flock mentality!  Those good things saved the day.

So why don't I just let "hardy" sheep live through the wind chills and snow?  First, they are ALL valuable to me.  My culls are gone, and I've chosen to keep each one.  Losing any of them would be unacceptable, if I can help it!  And I know plenty of shepherds who've lost sheep in storms like this.  Second, while conditions in their homeland are frequently tough, it rarely is this cold and snowy there.  Temperatures here will be below zero (F) tonight, with ice and snow, and high winds all night.  When the wind blows, the air seems much, much colder.  Shetlands are very hardy, and are known to survive this just fine, but it does weaken them!!  Flocks left out in such hostile conditions have a higher mortality rate, and they require more feed to just stay alive.  That inefficiency sounds expensive to me!  By bringing the boys into the barn, they are out of the wind, shiver less or not at all, need less feed, drink more water, and continue to lick their salt and minerals.  Outside, they stop drinking, and won't mess around with salt or minerals, only eating hay, then laying back down to survive.   It is much easier, and better for them, to just bring them in and let them hang out for a day or two.  When the weather clears, they will happily return to their pasture.  There you have it!  Shepherding in snowy Wisconsin, and the realities of loving sheep. 

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