Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sheep and Shawls

I am working from home again today. Kelly couldn't get up the driveway last night, even with the 4WD truck. We had to hook it up to the tractor and get it up the drive with me steering and Kelly on the tractor. Then, this morning, he had trouble getting it back out to the driveway. Argh...rotten weather! I am fortunate to be able to work from home.

For anyone who wonders, the bread of yesterday was lovely. I can see that this new bread machine is going to be much loved in this house! Here's the bread, after some munching had occurred. The top is a bit squashed as a result. Yummy! I was amazed at how many blogs I read yesterday that involved bread baking. Must have been something in the air!

Today I am keeping an eye on Stuffin, the goat. I think she is getting ready to kid, but this will be the first time for us (except the ones that died while we were away) and I am very hopeful it will go well. They can get hypothermia so quickly, so we hope that since she is inside and since we have some heat lamps in her area, things will go as planned. I am watching for the signs of labor and feeling her tail ligaments for changes. Since I'm not used to it, it's a bit hard to know! And my goat is not anywhere near as wide as the goat over at Antiquity Oaks! Wow, she's ready to burst!

Tonight, we take our first "Learn to Spin Your own Yarn" class. I'm so excited about it! I've bought a few batts of lovely wool to learn with. I also have a lovely drop spindle that I bought on Etsy from Dragoncraft. You can see it below along with a lovely pink and grey batt titled "Stargazer Lily" from Silver Sun Alpacas. Spinning, whether on a drop spindle or a wheel, is such an art. I think it takes years of practice and experience to be good at it, and I'm only just starting, so I'm not expecting great things to emerge just yet.

Here's a lovely piece of history, for those of you who enjoy vintage hand crafting stories. My parents visited the Shetland Islands in 1961. As it happens, the Queen Mother was visiting the Shetland Islands at the same time they were! (she was just making sure it was all ready for my parents' visit of course!) During their visit, they met these two sisters on the Isle of Unst who had been commissioned to make a shawl for the Queen Mother to be presented as a gift during her visit. They were both extremely experienced and skilled spinners and knitters. Here is a picture (used with kind permission of my father!) of the two ladies wearing shawls just like the one presented to the Queen Mum. See how delicate and fine they are?

Remarkably, my mother was able to pass the shawl through her wedding band - it is a tradition with these shawls that they should be so finely made that they can be passed through a ring with no difficulty! Wow! They are apparently made with a special fine wool that comes from the neck of Shetland sheep. Maybe one of my blog readers with Shetlands will be able to comment on this! I wonder if Icelandics have similar wool? I can't wait to be able to spin wool from my very own sheep!

Well, I don't expect to be able to make such divine things as those shawls, but if I can learn to make my own yarn and perhaps some scarves and socks, I'll be happy! Here, just as a feast for the eyes, are some of the batts I've purchased. I couldn't decide which ones to include, they are all so lovely, but here are a few of my favourites! Here, a blend of lovely pastels...

Here, a blend called "Ice Queen."
This delightful blend is called "Dark before Dawn." Stay tuned - hopefully I'll be able to report on my spinning antics and maybe baby goats soon.


Lola Nova said...

Wow, so much going on in the wonderful wooly world! I am sending positive thoughts to you and your endeavors (and to Stuffin of course). Good luck to all.

Joanna said...

Before blogging, I never realized that so many people had sheep, spun, and knitted, very interesting.

Good luck with the newborns.

Mare said...

Wow this post is packed full of goodies! First, the bread looks great! I can almost smell it! Then i am so excited about your class! I have a few drop spindles i bought just because i abslutely LOVE them, but don't have a clue how to use them. So, hopefully we will be able to find someone to teach a class at the Paper Sparrow (my daughter's shop)this year. Until then i live thru you my friend! hahaha Also, i cannot wait to see the baby goat. I'll say a prayer that all goes well for her. Please keep us updated!

thecrazysheeplady said...

Looks like grand fun! All of it :-)

Mom L said...

Glad Kelly made it home OK, even if you did have a little trouble with the driveway. At least you didn't have to call AAA like Diane did!

The wool colors are breathtaking! I did learn to knit and crochet while waiting for Diane to burst upon the world, but I'm unfamiliar with the term "batt" - I always bought by the skein.

Good luck with your class tonight, but especially with events surrounding Stuffin. We'll all be waiting for newborn photos!!

Nancy in Atlanta

Spinner said...

Just want to let you know that I have nominated your blog for the Lemonade Stand Award, you can read about it on my blog.

I have a drop spindle but I think that mine is too light, either that or I need a lot more practice. I also have my Great-Grandmother's spinning wheel that I hope to get spinning at some point. Your blog is very dangerous for me, it makes me want to try too many new things.

Yellow Jacket Ridge Angoras said...

Your rovings are gorgeous! You will be surprised how fast you pick up spinning. I didn't do very well with the drop spindle but it taught me how to draft. I really took to the wheel and my teacher is amazed how beautiful my yarn is.

If you get on and go to the goat forum you can post pictures of your doe and they can help you access her pregnancy. They can also answer all your questions. It's an amazing forum and group of very experienced people.

Farm Chick Paula said...

Wow, Claire.. you never fail to impress me!! I would LOVE to take a spinning class...*sigh*
The batts are gorgeous!!

Jen and Rich Johnson said...

Claire, thanks for the photos of the shetland shawls. I have shetlands and I have heard the same thing, the neck wool is very fine compared to the rest of the body and is used for the shawls. Great photo, I may need to copy it and add it to my library.