Archive for March, 2013

Mailbox Surprise

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

It seems like my fibre club packages arrive at the perfect time. The last one came on a snow day when I could spend a good length of time at my wheel enjoying the great colours and trying to figure out how to spin long draw. Today marks the start of the 4 day Easter weekend, and my mailbox was full again!

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The fibre this time is Romney, and the colourway is called Lightning Strike. I am thinking that I need socks rather than mitts at this time of year, so my plan for spinning will take that into consideration.

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I’m going to divide the roving in half lengthwise, one half for each sock. I’m going to try to make matching socks by using the fractal spinning method. The colours appear to be a pretty brownish purplish orange. I hope that the individual shades can stand out well.

Spunky socks

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Today I finished my pair of socks that I’ve been working on for the last two months. They started off as the 100 g of Cotswald fleece expertly dyed and distributed by the good folk at Spunky Eclectic.
20130328-011037.jpg The yarn is thick and dense, perfect for the kind of socks that can keep you warm when wearing rubber boots. These are the most fun and classiest rubber boot socks that I’ve ever had.

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I knit the socks on 2mm needles, toe up, with an after thought heel. Toes heels and ribbing were worked in black to contrast with the peacock tones of the body of the sock.

I am glad to be done this project, because I will soon be getting another package of fleece in the mail!

Sheep Sheering Day at Foot Flats Farm

Friday, March 15th, 2013

This past week was March Break.  While most people take vacations and take time to relax, I was excited to go to work on a farm for a day!  I took part in a sheep sheering day on Amherst Island at Foot Flats Farm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis farm has around 1600 sheep, and the plan was to shear half of them and keep them inside the barn until it gets warmer.  It was a very cold day on Thursday, and the wind stripped the heat out of us and out of the barn we were working in.

This was the first time that I had really paid attention to the process of shearing, and what happens to the fleece afterwards.  I got to try most of the jobs (not the shearing itself though…that’s a job for true professionals!).

The sheep were led in from outside, and were kept in pens waiting for their turn. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere were three shearers who kept up a quick pace, shearing 452 sheep over the course of the day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am impressed with how well the shearers calmed the sheep down and kept them still while artfully removing the fleece and keeping it all in one piece.  Their shearing follows a rhythm…belly fleece goes first into a separate pile because it is really dirty.  Then the fleece comes off the back and finally the hind legs.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter the fleece is removed from the sheep, one of the other workers picks it up and spreads it out like a blanket on the skirting table.  This is done by the very skilled, by holding on to the fleece that had come off the rear legs, one leg in each hand, and unfurling the fleece with a quick arm movement.

Here’s Noa, a teenager who has been helping out her family with shearing days since she was little.  She guided me through the day, teaching me a lot along the way.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf done correctly, it will spread out completely.  Who knew that sheep were so big!?  I tossed one or two fleeces but never did it perfectly.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next jobs that happen require less skill, and I got to be pretty good at them!  This is where dirty pieces get pulled off, and the fleece gets inspected to see if there are coloured fibers in the mix.  It takes fairly good eyesight to distinguish whether a discolouration is due to dirt or coloured fibers.  The fleece is then folded over and rolled just like a sleeping bag.  The far end gets twisted and then tucked in to keep the fleece in a tight compact roll.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe roll is then tossed up to a person waiting by the 7 foot tall burlap sack.  The fleeces are compacted in the bag by someone jumping up and down on them.  I don’t like heights, so I was not keen to take on this job.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter the bag is full (40 fleeces or so I was told), it gets stitched up with twine, and then heaved onto a pile of other bags.  I am not sure how much they weighed, but it took 3 people to maneuver into place. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASometimes there are runaway sheep that need to be wrangled back into a different pen.  This is also a job for those who know lots about sheep.  Noa’s a natural!

Not only did I learn a great deal, and make memories and new friends, but I also got fed delicious meals (including their very own lamb) and ended up being given a fleece of my very own!  I’m waiting until it is warmer out, and then I’ll wash it, and hang it out to dry.

Thanks very much to Cherry and Mark for the hospitality, and to Noa for teaching me so much!