Saturday, November 18, 2017

What I am working on

Rich got the sheep coats washed and on the sheep this week, so we started hay.  Fleeces will be nice and clean on shearing day.

I am still spinning Cora, second skein is done and ready to wash, and the final batch is on the wheel.

Still carding batts of Sybil, I should get this done and all up on Etsy shop this weekend.  So soft and crimpy, I love her.

Looking forward to starting on carding Sarin, her fleece is dry and ready to card.  Will see once we get to it if it will be yarn or batts.

I'm posting yarn kits to make the sheep heid hat on my Etsy shop today.

Busy busy busy, wish I had more thyme... (sorry couldn't resist)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

What I am working on

Cold November Veterans day, probably the last week of any useful pasture.  Will be putting on the jackets this weekend as we have to start on hay.

Working on the rolag idea, here is the first skein starting to knit into a barn hat.  I am really loving it.  You just don't know what its going to look like until you knit it up.

Here is the second skein on the niddy noddy.  The colors came out more defined on this skein as I am still learning how to use the blending board.

Here it is nestled between the ram yarn and Cora's skein.

Lastly, the rolag, just realized never posted photo of what they look like, which is terrible because I am just learning, but there you go.

We clipped little Hazel and she now has very large ears.

On the carding table is still Sybil.  Really lovely and longer staple length, so will be converting to batts for spinning.  This would be her lamb fleece, so extra soft and bouncy.

Cora's creamy white wool is on the wheel still, just finishing up the 2nd bobbin of single, then will ply.

Next up with be the darker locks of Cora, will make a pretty oatmeal fawn yarn.

Barn hat I made out of britch wool while watching TV cause I don't have to watch the needles for this pattern.

Next fleece I will be washing is Sarin's.  And before the people who have been asking me for black raw fleeces get upset with me for saying I don't have black fleeces remaining for sale, I need you to know that Sarin's fleece is very pretty, but didn't do well in shearing so there are too many second cuts for me to ethically sell to someone as a raw fleece.  We have a pretty strict set of standards before we are willing to sell a raw fleece to a spinner.  So don't be mad at me please, I have saved you a lot of frustration and disappointment...

Pretty locks from Sarin's fleece

OK Acres Sarin

Saturday, November 4, 2017

What I am working on

Started to restock my Etsy shop after a long hiatus.  Experimenting with my new light box to get beautiful shots of my yarns and batts so they look as good as they feel!  Any photographers out there with ideas for improving my shop photos, please check out my Etsy shop and critique away, I would really appreciate the feedback.  I am inspired by  the photos of EdgewoodGardenStudio, if I could get close to her style, I would be thrilled.

Will be washing and hanging three skeins, the one on the right is Cora, her creamy white wool.  The other two are from ram fleeces that we had processed into roving by Acorn Fiber Works. 

Still working on carding Cora's fleece, so pretty and soft, I love handling her wool.

I was invited to vend at The Knitting Circle Fiber Arts Festival in February, so getting my application mailed out today.  Hope they still want me!

And just finished my second bobbin of singles from the self striping rolag, so will be plying that today.  I think I'll make a hat from the two skeins to see how the striping works.  V. interested to see how this is going to turn out.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Why is your yarn so soft and bouncy?

We have been asked many times why our yarns are so soft and bouncy. I think we get this question because many knitters and spinners are accustomed to Shetland wool that is scratchy.

There are actually several reasons why our Shetland wool is so soft.

First, we have spent years acquiring, breeding, and retaining some of the finest Shetlands you are going to find here in North America. We micron test our sheep every year and we know which fleeces are the finest. The fineness of the fleece is a big component of how soft the yarn feels. The handle of the fleece is heavily influenced by fineness also, but how a fleece feels is impacted by other factors and we breed for all of them. We don’t just throw sheep together in breeding groups and hope for the best. There is a definite strategy and focus on fleeces that have the potential to produce soft and bouncy wool for knitting and spinning.  

I am not the most knowledgeable Shetland breeder in North America, but I have been trained by Shetland Sheep Society Inspectors, and have a really solid understanding about what the breed can and should be in Great Britain. Knowing a good fleece is an important part of what we do. We only retain what I consider to be the very best.

Another factor here is the consistency of the fleece. Anyone can take a fiber sample, perform micron testing, and declare that their sheep is fine, but how fine is the fleece from front-to-back? Is there a lot of guard hair? Does the fineness fall off drastically in the back of the sheep? If you make yarn out of a fleece that is a melting pot of fine and coarse fibers, the yarn is not going to feel soft. That’s just a scientific fact. We strive to minimize the fiber-to-fiber and within fiber variability. That makes a big difference and contributes to a softer wool product.

The final reason that our yarns feel softer than what fiber enthusiasts might typically experience elsewhere is that we hand process most if not all of our fleeces. That means each lock is hand carded and handspun for knitters or handcranked into batts for spinners. There is a huge difference between a fleece that is commercially processed and an identical one that has been done by hand like they would have been done in the old days. Technology is wonderful in terms of productivity, but in the yarn world, you pay a price in quality in order to obtain quantity. Our goal here is to only sell the best yarns that the Shetland breed can offer. The only way to do that is to hand process the fleeces.

That’s pretty much it. Our yarns start out with the finest Shetland wool and then we meticulously hand craft each skein of yarn so that it is the best that it can be in terms of softness and bounce.