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 24, 2014

The report from here...

Cold.  Icy.  Cold.  Windy.  Cold.  Frost everywhere.  Cold.

Very thankful for brightly colored wool socks, thick wooly mittens, warm wooly scarves and hats, and warm wooly sweaters that help make it all tolerable, ''s COLD!  So COLD!

It's cold.

Friday, February 21, 2014

What?! More Polar Air?! No Way!

Sigh...more polar air is coming.  Next week we are forecast to have several nights nearly 20 degrees below zero in a row.  Really?????  Sigh....

From what I've heard, this winter will smash the records for worst winter ever.  We've done pretty good so far, but it's not easy.  I have a heavy heart.  I'm stalling out my usual Feb. barn activities and schedule so that the flock is the least stressed as possible.

Yesterday, we had pouring rain, thunder, and lightning.  Crazy!  Today, as the colder air moves in, we are getting strong gusts of wind up to 50 mph.

Spring O Spring...where are you?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Nice Market, Nice Snow, Nice Warm Up

Saturday was a really nice day at the market!  The roads were clean, the sun was out, and even though it was nearly zero degrees, people were ready to come out and shop.  The dyed yarns were very popular as knitters everywhere are looking for bright colors to cheer up the winter blahs.  Claire and Posie's yarns were the hot items of the morning!

Yesterday, we had several inches of powdery snow.  This was a very polite little snowstorm with just a little wind, and it was fairly fast moving through our area.  It's beautiful out there today...considering it's winter.

Today, we are having a beautiful warm up FOR ONCE! lol  It will get above freezing for the first time in weeks.  The weather data is overwhelming...more snow than usual, more sub-zero days than usual, more this and that.  It's been quite a winter.

Unless we have a disasterous spring, the change in seasons this year will be very sweet!

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Pack!

Oh goody!  We have a new pack!  Their howls scared the daylights out of me last night.  Now I know why everyone in the barn has been so anxious lately!

It just goes against human instinct to stand around when several somethings are howling so close by.....big, loud howls...not cute, high-pitched yips and yowls.

All doors are secure, all gaps are covered, all fences are tight.  Unfortunately, this pack seems bold.  Instead of running away, they ran closer.

Don't like it.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sheepy Valentines!

 Sheep have no access to candy so....they send love!
 Flowers and fiber...they just go together don't they?
And who would want candy when you can have warm, sweetheart wooly socks!

We here at Wheely Wooly Farm wish you all a happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What a relief!

Delightful January Blossoms! (in the farmhouse, of course)

The worst of the deep cold is passing and what a relief that is!  Yesterday was a busy day.  We had lows nearly 20 degrees below zero for again a couple of days.  After so many stretches of cold like that, even animals that can handle it become stressed.  We were on careful alert for anyone showing signs that the cold was becoming too much for them.  We ended up having to tend three animals to get them warmed up and ok again. Frequent checks were the order of the day!!  It is such a relief that today is warming up, with warmer air due to arrive by tomorrow.  

The sheep are doing fine, but are definitely getting bored with this weather!  Nothing would please them more than a nice day outside.  The geese have had no trouble with the cold.  They simply sit down on their feet and wait for a warm up.  They happily live in the coldest part of the barn but go outside on nice days...a kind of day we haven't had in......three months! lol

This winter has given us several nights of fear.  When it gets so cold, we worry that someone will be lost.  You go into winter with the best stock you can, as healthy as you can get them, but the rest is up to fate.  You shelter them, tend them, protect them, but there is only so much you can do.  The cold we've had this winter is unlike anything I've ever experienced before, and I did not think it was possible we could have a winter like this, of ceaseless cold.  I'm very grateful we have Shetland sheep!  Their fuzzy, wooly bodies protect them in extraordinary ways which give them the ability to get through the cold as long as there is little or no wind.  Bringing them in to the barn works great!

Today the sun is shining brightly and the air is beginning to warm.  The flock is getting more playful.  We all surely hope we've seen the last of the deep cold!  Relief feels so good!  Perhaps we can go back to enjoying a normal winter day, with bright light and spring tweets in the trees from our resident wild birds!  

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Knitting Samples Poster

Boy, am I behind!  Here is the knitting samples poster I promised I'd put up awhile ago.  The black backing is sort of a foam board, very sturdy and light weight (and relatively cheap).  The samples are different knit stitches from garter, stockinette, k2p2 ribbing, Cat's Paw Lace (very simple lace knitting using yarn overs and decreasing), and a sample of increasing, and one of decreasing.  They are all very simple and perfect for beginners.  Underneath the swatch is the name of the stitch or what the swatch is, and the pattern (in the case of Cat's Paw lace).  It was a great project that earned not only a blue ribbon, but Best In Show!

An excellent teaching tool to learn some new techniques!

I think the poster created some bad feelings among some people as they didn't understand that someone so young could possibly DO such COMPLICATED work.  I'm not sure what has happened to good learning attitudes here in America, but so many people think the easiest things are too challenging for kids.  You have to work over and past those people.  If you look back in history, children were knitting much more challenging things than this, and doing so regularly and easily.  Somehow in our modern world, asking youth to learn things seems to have been lost.  This poster became a local symbol that youth CAN and DO learn at an amazing rate, and they can do more than you think they can!  It took three days for the Best In Show ribbon to be placed on the poster, as hard feelings seemed to be swirling around among some adults.  I don't think some of those adults ever 'healed' from their feelings.  The youth who made these swatches had no problem making them.  The hard part came in writing up the patterns perfectly! lol  But that, too, was excellent work in diligence, neatness, and proofreading...and was far from overwhelming.  The other hard part was centering the title.  Oops.  The rest of the yarn on this skein was made into scarves for dolls and sold at the market.  The whole project was a great experience and fun, too!

Knitting is an amazing thing.  There is so much you can do with it!  It connects modern youth to the generations of the past.  It prepares youth for more complicated thinking.  It encourages flexing problem-solving skills.  Knitting brings people together!  Knitting is very satisfying.  It gives the knitter a sense of accomplishment.  It gives you new clothes to wear.  It's a creative endeavor that will amuse for a lifetime, and so much more!  What's NOT to love about knitting?  

We hope you enjoy seeing this poster, and we encourage anyone out there to try it with your youth!  Pick something simple, or more challenging based on the skills of your knitter and see what comes of it!  This poster idea will also work with crochet, and would be equally fun, I'm sure!  

By the way, adults can make their own "Swatch Libraries" by simply starting with basic stitches, then moving up to more things.  Once you master garter stitch, stockinette, ribbing, increasing, and decreasing, then you can begin to explore other ways of casting on, increasing, decreasing, and yarn overs.  The combinations will keep you busy for a very long time.  In times past, these swatches were sewn together into long scarves to hang on walls or store in drawers as a sort of stitch dictionary to keep for future use.  How cool!  If you crochet, make swatches of single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, triple crochet, and so on.  Fun!  It's a great study in gauge and how the different stitches work together. 

Or in crochet, make a poster of different ways to make granny squares, using color or technique!  What a great study of such a cool thing!  The fun is endless. 

We hope we've inspired you to try some swatch making for your own fun, and creating stitch dictionaries for yourself!  If you have any other great ideas, leave a comment and share!

Happy Swatching everyone!