Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ewe A Day - Whispering Pines Irish Lace

Irish Lace is similar to Morning Glory in that they are both fawn gulmogets with longer fleeces. She is out of Whispering Pines Buttercup and Firth of Fifth Leyland. I should really have micron results in front of me when I make these posts, but her's is similar to Morning Glory's - decent for the quality of sheep she is. In other words, both of these ewes are very nice with lots of good qualities. They are the type of ewes you use to improve fleece, in my opinion. Of course, when I say "improve fleece" I mean "make fleece finer". I hate to group them together like this, because they are not identical by any standard of judgement, but they serve similar purposes in our breeding program. Irish Lace is currently my only Black Forrest moorit granddaughter. We also have a nice grandson, but I like this girl better overall.

Ewe A Day - Whispering Pines Morning Glory

Whispering Pines Morning Glory is a solid ewe. She has an excellent conformation and a nice handling fleece. She's out of Sheltering Pines Cihat and Under The Son Betulina - both very nice sheep. This is one of his daughters that we kept. She has pretty much everything but extra fine wool. It's an excellent fleece with nice length, and her micron is still quite nice.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ewe A Day - Wintertime Itasca

Wintertime Itasca is a ewe that I really like (don't I say that about all of them?). I wish all of our ewes had a fleece like this. She looks like my vision of a Shetland ewe. She has a dense fleece with a nice yearling micron test (AFD: 25ish with a low CV (I don’t have the numbers in front of me at the moment). I also like her bloodlines a great deal. She’s out of Whistlestop 0427 and Wintersky Landslide. There’s a lot to like about this ewe. Itasca is a half sister to Wintertime Blues, Jazz, and Ruby (all four are out of 0427). Of course, she has rubbed off the fine neck wool. She did that during the quarantine period by sticking her head through the fence.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Color - Jen

I dyed up border leicester locks over the fall, 10 different colors. My intention was to make up kits for needle felters, which I did, and I know of a few needle felters who are enjoying these kits. But I just recently got the idea to mess around with the colors to create blended yarns. I hand blended a few colors and then spun up a small swatch on my spindle, and its now my new thing. So now, when people come over, I make them pick three colors, and I blend them together and make a yarn swatch. I only rejected one, Will's,but mainly because I didn't blend them well, the result was ugly, and he lost interest. I mostly like the ones where the color family is the same. They yield yarns with highlights, almost as pretty as natural colored yarns from my flock.

So here are the colors:

And here are the yarn swatches.

From left to right:
Sapphire blue/Turquoise/teal
Lilac/yellow/aztec gold (Andrew did this one, thought it would be ugly, but its really nice)
Emerald green/Turquoise/Teal
Bright yellow/Pumpkin orange/Aztec gold
Vermillion/Fire red/Fuchia
Fuchia/Sapphire Blue/Scarlet
Fuchia/Sapphire Blue/Scarlet/Lilac (I call this one "Charlie Rose", uses the colors from the intro graphics on his show)

I will be loading three listings of 3 oz of the sapphire blue/Turquoise/teal combo (in batts) to my etsy shop shortly. I am in the process of dying the yellow/orange/gold combo and will post that as batts. Then probably the Charlie Rose, Andrew's and the reds. Unless I run out of white wool by then.

Ewe A Day - Primrose

Whispering Pines Primrose is a looker. She is a yearling out of Sheltering Pines Kiraz and Windswept White Pine, who was a striking F3 Jericho who I liked.

I like this ewe a lot and hope to build off of what she brings to the table. She’s very square and level, which is quite unusual for a spotted Shetland (in my experience). Both of her parents were very nice, so she turned out much like I had hoped. Things certainly don't always go that way, as we all know.

She has nice, dense fleece with decent length (about six inches) that tested at 26 and change as a yearling. Her fleece is also quite uniform from front-to-back. She’s also probably my ideal size for a Shetland ewe at about 75 pounds. I don't like them much smaller than that, and that size makes for easier care.

Although we are focused on both fineness and consistency (low CV), our primary goal right now is health, conformation, consistency, and uniformity from front-to-back.

Overall, a very nice spotted ewe.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ewe A Day - S'more Sparkles

Well, my ewe-a-day has turned into a monthly task. What started as a cool idea now feels like work. We can't have that. Only a few more to go. This might be another sign that our flock is too big.

This is S'more Sparkles - an Ag grey spotted F2 Orion ewe. She has a 5-6 inch, dense, very lustrous fleece! She has an excellent conformation and tail! Overall, she's a very nice ewe who represents the breed very well. I'm not a big Ag guy, but I've always believed in quality first, color and patterns second. I haven't seen many spotted Orion granddaughters, although I'm sure they exist in fair numbers. We're looking for big things from Sparkles. Thanks to Tori for selling us Sparkles.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fantasia Yarn - Jen

I just finished spinning up Fantasia's fleece. She is a 2007 ewe we got from Maureen Koch, and we love her on so many levels. She has a very friendly disposition, a very good advocate for the breed. When people say, "Shetlands are so wild, aren't they?", we introduce them to our Fantasia. She is flashy - Yuglet Sokket Katmoget - she really stands out on the pasture.

She throws really nice lambs, who have inherited her disposition.

Her fleece is very dense, and is a very pretty grey, covers entire spectrum from very light grey to charcoal. It spins up well and is nice and soft.
Usually I sort out the fleeces that I deem acceptable for sale raw based on how they sheared, cleanliness, etc. Fantasia was first in line for shearing this year and the outcome was a disaster. Second cuts like crazy, spots where she got her foot caught in it and just shredded it, etc. So I decided that I would spare my customers the heartbreak of going through and pulling out beautifuls sections of fiber that were cleanly sliced in half with a shearing blade...(its really sickening, isn't it?). I decided against selling it as batting from my drum carder also because her staple length is a little on the short side, and I guess I was concerned that a spinner would be unhappy trying to spin it when they are used to our other shetlands that have longer fleeces. I could be way off base here, but I am really sensitive when it comes to customer satisfaction.

So I spun it up and here is the result. I sold one skein b4 Christmas to a friend who was going to knit her daughter a hat. So now I have 4 skeins in my shop, a total of 576 yards, 12 oz of yarn. And about 2 paper bags of scrap fiber that will make a nice base for a needlefelting project when I get around to it.