Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fiber progress

During the fiber festivals, I demo flick carding and spinning.  I pull locks from a washed fleece, flick them and spin them up.  

Blue Sapphire's fleece was selected this year because it is so pretty and has beautiful lock structure and I love spinning her.

Anyways, plied last weekend, and ended up with two dreamy creamy skeins with a little bit of grey flecks every so often to pay homage to her grey spots.

Also carded those cobwebby locks from Pamela, yielding beautiful cloudy carded locks like this.

Which spun up into nice singles.  I have 1/2 a bobbin of cream colored which i selected from her fawn katmoget fleece.  The plan is to fill a second bobbin with the same amount of white, and then do a gradient down to the darkest color from her neck wool, so the yarn will make a pretty transition from creamy white to rich cocoa brown. 

This makes really cool hats if you start with the dark around the brim, then lighter up to the crown.  Maybe I'll turn this into hat and then blog it.  Just decided, yup, that's the plan.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What I am Working On

Just washed Pamela's fleece.   Pamela is a 2014 lamb, all ewe lambs from 2014 Rich named for songs with girl's names.  I don't know what song Pamela is, but I love her fleece. She is a fawn katmoget, and is very soft and crimpy.  She is out of Frangelico and Egyptian Autumn.

Lock from Pamela's washed Fleece

I probably won't get to carding it until Sunday, after the WNY Fiber Arts Festival.  I am almost as excited about carding her fleece as I am about the fiber festival!!


I am currently spinning Blue Sapphire's fleece from 2013.  She was 3 when she donated this fleece, and it is still so very soft, feels like a lamb fleece.  I already spun up her grey parts and used for my sheep heid kits.  The white is really pretty, with intermittent flecks of grey.

Blue Sapphire's Wool on Hoof

Blue Sapphire and her flashy ram lamb

Monday, September 21, 2015

Fingerlakes Fiber Festival

This past weekend was the Fingerlakes Fiber Festival at the Hemlock fairgrounds.  It was so fun, really great to see all our fiber friends and talk about their projects made from our soft shetland wool.  Thank you to all for your support and kind words about our soft shetland wool!

Friday, July 3, 2015

2015 Sales List

The following Shetland Sheep are available for sale in 2015. The buyer can reserve any of these sheep with a 50% non-refundable deposit. Delivery, health papers, and any other costs associated with transporting them from Whispering Pines Farm to the buyer’s location is the sole responsibility of the purchaser. Whispering Pines Farm will pay for transfer, and/or registration costs in NASSA.

All of these Shetlands are graded with the FFSSA grading system that is based on the Jamieson and Smith system from Shetland. I have done my best to evaluate the fleeces using both my own experience as an evaluator and micron data. We send fleece samples annually to Texas A&M for analysis. The micron data provided for each sheep is from 2015.

All of the sheep are super fine except for two, but those two sheep have fleeces that have been very popular with spinners and I can promise that they will be some of the top examples of the breed you are likely to find.


Sheltering Pines Constantinople: Fine Price: $250

This grey katmoget ewe is out of Sheltering Pines Starry Night and Sheltering Pines Salicional. She has been with us since she was a yearling and has always held her weight well, and is an excellent mother. She is above average for size, with a weight of about 100 pounds. She also has large fleece that I have graded “Fine” per the grading system.


Micron: AFD: 26.7/SD: 5.7/CV:21.2%/CEM:10.6/SF:26.0/Staple Length: 3.5-4.5”/Age: 7

This is an excellent ewe that is a proven producer.

Sommarang Ilke: Super Fine Price: $250

Ilke came to us from Wisconsin in 2011 (as a lamb). She is about average in size for a Shetland, around 80 pounds. Ilke is a rich moorit who has produced excellent lambs who share her traits. She has a beautiful, typey Shetland head, and carries a “Fine” fleece grade at four years old. Her average micron qualifies for “Super Fine” status. Her fleece is very soft and she carries spots.

Micron: AFD: 24.1/SD: 5.9/CV:24.5%/CEM:11.2/SF:24.2/Staple Length: 3.0-4.0/Age: 4

Yes, she is the finest ewe on this list! Impressive for a four year old Shetland.

Whispering Pines Blue Diamond: Fine Price: $350

This five year old spotted fawn katmoget ewe is an excellent producer with an equally impressive fleece. She has an outstanding bloodline out of Sheltering Pines Blue’s Clues and Sheltering Pines Constantinople. She is one of the better spotted Shetlands that I have seen and her fleece grades out as “Fine.” You won’t find many spotted Shetlands with fleeces like this one.

Micron: AFD: 27.1/SD: 4.7/CV:17.5%/CEM:8.0/SF:25.7/Staple Length: 3.0-4.0/Age: 5

Whispering Pines Kahlua: Super Fine Price: $375

Kahlua is a beautiful moorit out of Wintertime Grasshopper and Winter Sky Vogue. What you have here is several generations of “Super Fine” in her pedigree, and she is as well. She is three years old and everything she has produced has been “Super Fine.” I personally think this is the best handling moorit fleece I have seen. The only downside is that the fleece is on the shorter side (2.25”-3.0”). We are currently retaining two of her daughters, which is why she is for sale. She also carries spots!

Micron: AFD: 25.0/SD: 4.0/CV:15.8%/CEM:6.6/SF:23.6/Staple Length: 2.25-3.0/Age: 3

Whispering Pines Venice: Fine Price: $350

This fawn katmoget ewe is excellent, but we have a number of great fawn katmoget ewes, so we are forced to part with this some of them. Notice the really low SF, which is a good indicator of the handle. Great fleece!

Micron: AFD: 27.3/SD: 4.2/CV:15.6%/CEM:7.0/SF:25.4/Staple Length: 3.0-4.0/Age: 2

Whispering Pines Cordovan: Fine Price: $350

This deep, rich moorit two year old is a superb Shetland, who had two of our favorite lambs this year (her first lambing). She is out of Khan and Whispering Pines Siena (who we still own). She doesn’t quite qualify for “Super Fine,” but we just sold some of her yarn and it was absolutely fantastic. She also carries spots. These ewes with the super low CV’s really are quite remarkable, traits that were passed on to her lambs this year.

Micron: AFD: 28.6/SD: 5.0/CV:17.4%/CEM:8.6/SF:27.0/Staple Length: 3.0-4.0/Age: 2

Whispering Pines 99: Super Fine Price: $400

This is a rare opportunity to own a Super Fine spotted fawn katmoget ewe. This ewe is only a yearling, yet is already showing great fleece traits. She is out of Egyptian Autumn and Whispering Pines Irish Rose – a Wintertime Bond daughter. Again, note the very low SF number, which is a good indicator of how the fleece feels. These are great Shetland bloodlines! She is one that we would definitely keep if we had that option.

Micron: AFD: 23.7/SD: 4.2/CV:17.9%/CEM:7.6/SF:22.5/Staple Length: 3.0-4.0/Age: 1

Blue Diamond Ewe Lambs: Too Early to Grade Price: $400 each

We don’t like to sell ewe lambs this early, but when we put the list together, we decided we had to sell some lambs this year or we’d be forced to sell more excellent breeding adults. I don’t know that these ewes will end up being less than excellent, but there are other lambs and genetics that we want to hold onto, so our hand is forced here. I think both of these lambs are perfect and identical at this point, so I won’t attempt to differentiate them. They are out of Egyptian Autumn, who is both Super Fine and one of the best Shetland rams I have seen in person. This is a great opportunity for someone looking for fine fleeced lambs with bloodlines that will produce.


Whispering Pines Oxford: Super Fine Price: $400

This two year old fawn katmoget out of Pompey and Frangelico has been in the “on deck circle” for two years now and since we probably won’t be using him in the next two years, it’s time to see what he can do with an up and coming flock. I believe he will be an excellent flock sire given his outstanding traits. His fleece is “Super Fine” and a bit longer than some of our rams. The length is between 3.5” and 4.5”. Wonderful handle to it as well. Note the 21.9 SF on a two year old ram! Very uncommon and buttery soft.


Micron: AFD: 23.2/SD: 4.0/CV:17.0%/CEM:6.9/SF:21.9/Staple Length: 3.5-4.5/Age: 2

Whispering Pines Stonehenge: Super Fine Price: $400

This fawn katmoget ram has a very similar appearance to Oxford. Stonehenge is out of Genoa and Khan, however. We used Stonehenge as a lamb and we still have the four ewe lambs that he sired. We were very impressed with him as a sire. His fleece is “Super Fine,” like our other rams and his fleece is just a dream in your hands. I love this ram’s potential as a flock sire, just like Oxford, but Stonehenge is a tad finer. Incredibly fine SF of 19.2 microns.

Micron: AFD: 20.5/SD: 3.4/CV:16.6%/CEM:6.3/SF:19.2/Staple Length: 3.0-4.0/Age: 2

Whispering Pines Egyptian Autumn: Super Fine Price: $500

This fawn katmoget ram is as good as it gets in a Shetland! His fleece isn’t quite as fine as Stonehenge, but it has incredibly tiny crimp that doesn’t show up well in a picture. He carries spots and has a “Super Fine” fleece. He is out of Egyptian King (a Bond son) and Blue Sapphire (a Blue’s Clues daughter). His fleece is about 3.5” long. He has an incredible fleece for a four year old Shetland! All of these rams are available because we need to do something different with colors.

Micron: AFD: 22.4/SD: 3.5/CV:15.6%/CEM:6.5/SF:20.9/Staple Length: 3.0-4.0/Age: 4

Whispering Pines Madagascar: Super Fine Price: $400

This “Super Fine” moorit ram is a yuglet out of Winter Sky Vogue and Egyptian Autumn. I like everything about this guy and we may decide to keep him, but we do have a lot of good looking ram lambs this year, and right now, this yearling is available. I don’t believe he will get used this fall, so I’d like to see what he can do with a flock of his own. Incredibly rare bloodlines here.

Micron: AFD: 21.1/SD: 3.7/CV:17.6%/CEM:6.9/SF:20.0/Staple Length: 3.0-3.5/Age: 1

Whispering Pines Egyptian Sunset: Super Fine Price: $400

Of the many superb ram lambs that we had last year (we had 25 of them), this guy was one of the three that we kept last fall, which should say something about their quality. This ram is out of Egyptian Autumn and Irish Mist (who is a Khan daughter). As fine Shetlands go, this bloodline is pretty amazing! Note the very low SF! We’ve never had one this fine before. You don’t often see Shetlands with SF’s below 19 microns!

Micron: AFD: 19.0/SD: 4.1/CV:21.6%/CEM:7.8/SF:18.6/Staple Length: 2.0-2.5/Age: 1

Whispering Pines Rosewood: Super Fine Price: $400

This ram’s bloodlines are also fantastic. He is out of Stonehenge and Kahlua, two “Super Fine” sheep. He has a beautiful, soft fleece with very tiny crimp. This guy was a looker from birth. He is a yearling so it’s difficult to project what his fleece will be like a year from now, but he has a lot to offer the right flock. I always like the sheep that are second and third generation “Super Fine,” particularly if they are excellent ambassadors of the breed.

Micron: AFD: 20.4/SD: 3.9/CV:19.0%/CEM:6.7/SF:19.5/Staple Length: 3.0-3.5/Age: 1

Fleece Terms

AFD (Average Micron):

The average of a sample of fibers measured from the top to the bottom of each fiber. Shetlands are the finest of the British breeds, which means their AFD’s should be much less than 30 microns (the universal threshold for coarseness).

Standard Deviation (SD):

Simply the variation around the average of a sample of fibers. Many Shetland fleeces will have decent AFD’s, but they are actually a mix of fine and coarse fibers, which is revealed in the SD number. We prefer SD’s below 5.0, but we’ve seen excellent fleeces with slightly higher numbers.

Coefficient of Variation (CV):

This is a calculation determined by dividing the fiber variation (measured in standard deviations) by the AFD. This is a critical Shetland metric. Fleeces with higher CV’s don’t tend to hold their fineness into adulthood. We like our CV’s less than 24.0%, but you will find numbers all over the map with Shetlands.

Coarse Edge Mean (CEM):

This is another important Shetland fleece metric because it shows how far from the AFD a second population of coarse fibers is. In other words, the lab calculates the average of the coarsest 5% of the fibers. The difference between this average and the overall sample AFD gives you the CEM. As you can imagine, you don’t want a high CEM because it indicates there are many coarse fibers. Generally speaking, the SD and CV metrics will capture this extra fiber variability, but the CEM provides more information on whether the fibers are simply inconsistent, or whether there are actually very coarse fibers in the sample.

Spinning Fineness (SF):

I like this metric because it is the one that most closely correlates with what my hand feels in a fleece. I’ve seen fleeces with AFD’s of 25 microns that didn’t feel all that soft, and others that felt much much softer than that. The difference is almost always in the SF. A low SF almost always indicates a fine and consistent fleece. I wouldn’t look at this by itself, however, which is why I have also included CV and CEM in our grading system. A fleece could have a low SF, but a high CEM and CV. When I evaluate fleeces by hand, I typically don’t choose the ones with high SF’s, CV’s, and CEM’s. The reason for that is that my hand detects the higher percentage of coarse fibers associated with high SF’s, CV’s, and CEM’s. It’s really the only way to communicate to potential fleece buyers who don’t have the luxury of handling the fleece.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Lambs 2015 Part 3

On 4/27, Whispering Pines Pearl had fawn and grey katmoget ewes out of Egyptian Autumn. We always await Pearl's lambs with breathless anticipation because she always seems to have stuff that we really like. Also, we had never bred her to Egyptian Autumn before, but the genetic combination seemed right. Pearl is one of our finer adult ewes (in both bone and fleece).

I like these lambs and it's especially nice to get a black-based ewe out of Pearl, which hasn't happened before.

Whispering Pines Cordovan also lambed on the same day and also gave us two really nice ewe lamb. The first one was a spotted moorit ewe that is mostly white. The second was a smirslet sokket moorit ewe. Canterbury is the sire. Cordovan is another home grown ewe that took us generations to produce and it's nice to see offspring also that appear to be a step forward. Cordovan is out of Khan and our own Siena, two fantastic Shetlands.

Both lambs look to be future producers of fine fleeced lambs and should be given their genetics.

We caught a little bit of a break before the final two ewes lambed on May 2nd. For some reason, all of the ewes lambed within a two week window this year, which is a good, but tiring thing.

Kahlua started with a fawn katmoget ewe out of Canterbury that is the type of ewe lamb we always hope for but rarely get. The rams are the ones that seem to turn out this way. Kahlua is also out of some really fine genetics. Her sire is Wintertime Grasshopper, and her mother is Winter Sky Vogue.

Yes, it would be nice to get this in a black-based ewe, but when you breed brown-to-brown, that's not going to happen.

Whispering Pines Caramel Mocha brought the curtain down on this year's lamb crop with an especially nice fawn katmoget ram. Yes, we need another fawn katmoget ram like we need a kick to the solar plexis, but when they are this nice, you don't complain. Caramel Mocha is out of Khan and Genoa, which is two more reasons to rejoice about this ram. He is out of genetics that are about as good as it gets. I'm not sure if he's our best ram lamb this year, but he's in the top four for sure.


So, there you have it. The goal each year is to make our flock better and we definitely did that. Now the task is to sell enough ewes to make room for the new additions, and in the process, somehow not make the flock worse. We are now at the point where we can't merely pencil in lambs and know our flock is improved. Instead, we have to sell ewes that are about as good as it gets just to keep our flock down to a reasonable size. If the lambs don't turn out like we expected, it's always a set back because a ewe that is better is no longer in the flock. But that's why I get paid the big bucks to sort all of this out and be right about it 100% of the time. Sure.

Even if I am wrrrrrrrong, however, we still have a very nice ewe lamb with many generations of fine fleece genetics in their background, and as you can see, our sheep just don't throw back to coarse stock very often anymore. I think we batted almost 100% last year with our lambs (in terms of our mind's eye of what we are looking for) and I believe we did that this year also.