July 25, 2008
I also had blood samples taken for scrappie genotyping on a few ewes & my beautiful little ram.
Outside of that I'm keeping busy with spinning and gardening. But my favorite moment of the day is the evening when I can sit on the patio and watch my little group munch about under the apple trees.
July 19, 2008
I just love these colors!! Don't know, but I'm thinking about a pair of socks!
July 18, 2008
Take ‘Tit Bijou for example! I just love this little ewe.
Barely 40 cm at the shoulders. Square. Solid. And personality plus!
Here she is at 10 months old and 33 cm! What an adorable little haystack!
Well, she may be cute, but the velcro thing that she’s got going on is NOT a spinner’s dream! And NO, I didn’t dump hay on her ...
So here is the little princesses herself, in her own customized cover. Now, let’s take a look under that cover . . .
July 17, 2008
Here’s a picture of RhumRaisin’s fleece as of today :
July 16, 2008
As I was spinning and thinking about knitting, it occurred to me how things change over the years. My grandmother taught me how to knit when I was 8 years old. I remember as a teenager how I couldn’t find needles big enough or yarn thick enough! As I’ve gotten older I’ve grown fonder of smaller needles and finer yarn. I think that this is due to many things ... but perhaps more than anything else, it’s because speed is not the object anymore : I no longer try to finish a project as quickly as possible ; now I enjoy the process of knitting. I love every stitch. Smaller needles and finer yarn only means more stitches to enjoy! Also, at a gage of 7 to 8 stitches per inch, 500 grams of ouessant fleece can go a long way!
July 13, 2008
From all appearances, she had a beautiful fleece : black wool with brown tips.
But when I sheared her, I found “layers” of vegetable matter deep inside her fleece. I’m not sure how this happened. I bought her in January, so I’m guessing that this was already there when I bought her. Certainly none of my other sheep had this amount of vegetable matter. Unfortunately, this fleece ended up in the compost bin.
After such a sad experience, I decided to look at the possibilities of putting covers on my sheep in order to produce premium quality fleeces to spin. I did a fair amount of research and discovered that a lot of people cover their sheep. Studies of large commercial flock have been made which demonstrate the value of covering sheep : everything from increased wool quantity and quality to surprising health benefits, including significant reduction of fly-strike. I also learned that not all sheep covers are created equal. It is important to use a nylon cover that is waterproof, tear-proof, and breathable. Cotton canvas covers are to be avoided as they cause all sorts of problems. Additionally, the covers must fit correctly.
After speaking with a number of breeders in the States who cover their sheep, I decided that I wanted to try covering my ouessant sheep. The majority of breeders agreed that Matilda Sheep Covers were the very best covers available. So I ordered some of their smallest covers for my flock. Unfortunately, even the smallest covers are too big for ouessant sheep. So I’ve had to alter the covers a bit. Here’s a picture taken earlier this year. Three sheep in covers and one lamb without a cover.
Beautiful jet black, pristine, and no vegetable matter!
The first few weeks the sheep were covered, I would keep looking under the covers to make sure that everything was going as it should. When it rained, they stayed dry. The fleece was beautifully “conditioned” : not only do the tips not bleach, they don’t dry out and wear. The fleece is “moisturized” and “conditioned” by the lanolin. I am so looking forward to spinning these fleeces next year!
Additionally, the sheep don’t seem to mind the covers at all.
So this is the ongoing experiment. So far, so good! I’m very encouraged with what I’m seeing. Of course, it does require a bit of extra work .... but I think the end results (beautiful, pristine fleeces!) will be more than worth the effort!
***more updates and photos to come***
July 12, 2008
I just love them!!
They are so beautiful to watch!
And I can't wait to spin these fleeces next year!
July 10, 2008
Here’s a glimpse of what I’ve come up with so far!
This spins up wonderfully! It’s quite long ... almost 15 cm!
And I get a lovely long draw.
Two color knitting, here we come!!
Spinning day was quite wonderful, even if my friend Maylin played the role of enabler today : tempting me, a fiber junkie, with beautiful alpaca fleece. Of course I had to get some : 1.5 kg of gorgeous white alpaca and 2 kg of brown. I’m so excited!
Yet more fiber to spin!! This is just what I need!
July 9, 2008
July 8, 2008
Ciska : Raw fleece and spun yarn
July 7, 2008
Time for a little vacation!
For me July represents the end of the season!
Lambs have been born.
Sheep have been shorn.
Fences have been mended.
And now it’s time to sit down and relax on the terrace with a cool drink while I watch my little flock graze happily under the apple trees. It’s also a time of reflection, a time to take stock of the past year. But it’s not just the end of one year ... it’s the beginning of a new year. The shepherd in me is already thinking about next year’s lambs! The spinner in me is just now starting to look at my woolly harvest : oiling up the spinning wheel and dreaming up knitting projects for the months to come. I’m really excited about the possibilities! I’m thinking about socks and sweaters in lovely natural colors and brightly dyed wool. Can’t wait to get started!