Sunday, January 28, 2018

What I am working on

Starting to card up skirtings - this is neck wool that gets skirted cause its not covered by the coat, but there are some really nice bits, so I card into 1oz batts to sell.  Usually I can't tell who each clump is from.  Here are some of the carded locks ready for the drum carder today.

I am washing Elizabeth Bennet's fleece - coincidentally at same time watching Masterpiece Theater's Death Comes to Pemberly.

I don't have many fleeces left that I need to process, would be cool to be done before shearing, that rarely happens.  Here is Marianne's fleeces washed and ready to move to carding table

Washed Dowager Countess's two skeins yesterday, one is creamy white, the other is a very gentle gradient yarn, she didn't have any moorit, the darkest wool went to a nice mocha color.  Once dry I'll get these marked and popped into the etsy shop.
Lady Mary Skein and the gradient yarn from Milan, dried and ready to post in Etsy.

No point in showing knitting as little progress, did turn heel on Will's second sock, but lost track of the turns last night after a couple glasses of wine, so decided to leave for today.

That's it for this weekend, today is totally empty so lots of wool activity for me on the schedule!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

2017 Breeding Groups - Mr. Darcy

Mr. Darcy
Darcy is a Canterbury son out of Genoa. He is the darkest grey katmoget we’ve ever had and it’s something we would like to have more of. He is insanely fine, with nice density.

Darcy is a pretty rare Shetland. There's nothing rare about a grey katmoget, but we've never had one this fine and dense. As a two year old, his SF is 18.8 microns. It's exceedingly rare to find a lamb that fine. His father (Canterbury) is even finer. His four year old SF is 17.8 microns. That's probably the bottom end of the Shetland fineness spectrum. I'll have to declare that we've reached the summit on that particular trait. Everytime I think we are done using him, I put my hands in his fleece and have a change of heart. I wasn’t going to use him this year, but as I put the groups together on paper, I realized he completed a complex genetic gap that we had. Plus, Jen made me.

Elinor – really nice grey katmoget out of Egyptian Autumn and Pearl. Egyptian Autumn is out of Egyptian King (who goes back to Bond), and Blue Sapphire. I would’ve liked to put her with Nitro, but this could work (I had very little say in this group). Nitro is technically a better ram in terms of overall structure (conformation), but there aren’t many rams as fine as Darcy. Ultimately it came down to Darcy being black-based.
English Garden – Hey, I did pick this one! English Garden (AKA, Jumpy) is out of an F1 Jericho ram that we had and Itasca. She is a really nicely built grey katmoget who had two really nice black-based lambs last year out of Darcy (we kept both of them). I expect good thing here again this year.
Edith – A fine black ewe out of Itasca. I think this is a promising paring as well.

Sarin – A nicely built black ewe that is very fine. Mr. Darcy is even finer, and I believe there are nice possibilities here.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

2017 Breeding Groups - Whispering Pines Oberyn

This black ram is out of Pearl and Nitro. Regular readers of this blog will know that I do not 
like using ram lambs, but when you get a black one that is this nice, it’s often worth the risk, 
so we are spinning the wheel of chance here. 

Oberyn is very fine, and although I don't have his numbers in front of me, he has an SF around 20 
microns if not below. Nice staple length and crimp. He should cross well with the ewes that we 
gave him. None of them have his flaws and he doesn't have any of theirs either. More importantly,
there's a chance here to get Shetland lambs with the best of both parents without any of the 
weaknesses, which is always a goal, but difficult to achieve.
Siena – This ewe is a great producer, but we have always wanted black out of her. Nice build 
and density. She had one of our first really exquisite fleeces as a yearling and has produced 
lambs with the same traits.
Reawick – A white ewe that I think has traits that I think might cross well with this ram. Of 
course, I said that the last two years when I put her with Darcy and it didn’t quite come 
Kelly Kelly – A very nice adult moorit that has produced well so far for us.
Rosamund – Extremely nice fawn katmoget out of Canterbury and Siena. 
I really like this ewe and I really like this ram.
Lady Mary – Moorit out of Rosewood and Itasca.
I would have liked to put more black ewes in with him, but when you are trying to increase 
the number of them in your flock, that’s simply too risky. We tried that strategy last year and 
several good black ewes didn’t take, so I’m not risking that again with a ram lamb. It almost 
always works out, but once in a while…

Monday, January 22, 2018

2017 Breeding Groups - OK Acres Aries

Aries yearling Spinning Fineness: 20.9 microns. Not quite as good as Nitro's, but still very 
good (and I always have to qualify this with the statement) for a black. I do not like his fleece 
as much as Nitro's, but then again, we've never had a black-based Shetland with fleece characteristics like Nitro's. I hope to some day. Fineness is important, but handle elasticity, staple length & structure, etc. are all hugely important also.
We probably gave him more ewes that we should have given that he hasn’t produced 
anything yet, but he is a good black ram (spotted) and I think worth the gamble. Having said 
that, I have no one to blame but myself if it doesn’t work out.

Cora – fawn katmoget Canterbury daughter. Very fine, but I’ll gamble with fawn katmogets 
(psssst…we have too many of them).
Gwen – Another fine moorit out of Canterbury and Turin. Mrs. Patmore’s twin sister. Spots? 😁
Isobel – Fine moorit out of Canterbury and Kahlua.
Lady Rose – Isobel’s twin.
Marianne – Fawn katmoget out of Egyptian Autumn and Pearl.

The only thing we’re really trying to achieve here is convert fawn katmoget ewes into
black-based lambs. 

Aries has good traits that should reinforce what we have in these ewes. If these ewes 
settle, we’ll have good lambs from this group. I don’t expect spots, but it could happen.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

2017 Breeding Groups - OK Acres Nitro

We ended up going with four breeding groups this year as we targeted several different goals. It’s no secret that we’ve been trying to get more black-based sheep in our flock, so we had three groups dedicated to that initiative. It’s a high risk, high reward strategy, however, since two of the rams are unproven. At the end of the day, I think as I do every year – that this spring’s lambs will be the best ever. It’s been some time since that wasn’t the case. Steady and slow improvement each year.

Nitro got the largest group again this year for several reasons: I like him, he’s not related to most of our flock, and he’s unpatterned. His two year old fleece Spinning Fineness was 20.2 microns, which is very nice in combination with the rest of his fleece traits.

The fact that he’s spotted is a nice bonus that I intend to exploit. We have several spot carriers in this group, and even a few black-based sheep, which I’m sure makes little sense if you take our goal of increasing black-based sheep at face value. Each ewe has a purpose, however, and I could explain at length about why this group is what it is. Here is a fleece picture of Nitro, followed by his group.

Jane Eyre – a repeat breeding from last year. Our finest ewe. Looking for fine spotted ewes here.

Genoa – Had trips last year, but two of the ewes were black!
Elara – A white ewe that could give us white lambs. We have precious few of those.
Blue Sapphire – Looking for black spotted ewes here.
Itasca – Looking for black ewes here. She has been a ewe factory for us and nearing retirement.
Treviso – One of Itasca’s daughters. I just think this is a good pairing. Another repeat breeding.
Fanny – Another flock favorite.
Georgianna – A great black ewe. Would have liked to use a black ram on her, but she’s too good to leave open.
Pearl – We always get good lambs out of this fine ewe. Canterbury is her son, and we are using another one of her sons this fall as well.
Mrs. Hughes – A fabulous two-year-old and one of our best. Carries spots.
Dowager Countess – nice spotted ewe out of Canterbury and a Blue Sapphire daughter. We will get spots here.
Mrs. Patmore – Canterbury x Turin. We’ll get nice spotted lambs here as well.
Sybil – A really nice moorit ewe out of Canterbury x Genoa. Wouldn’t mind spots here.
O’brien – AKA OB. Supremely nice moorit out of Mr. Darcy and Mustang Sally.
Baxter – Black ewe out of Mr. Darcy and Kyrie. The best genetics in her pedigree and she’s about as good as we are going to get in a black ewe.
Ivy – I don’t like, I love grey katmogets and this is one of the best we’ve had born here. She is out of Mr. Darcy and Pamela. I was checking out ewe roster and was surprised we only had one daughter out of Pamela. That troubles me because she was such a good ewe and we really shouldn’t sell things without getting more than one daughter out of them. Oh well, if you only have one, this is as good as it gets.

That is a lot of ewes and there isn’t one strategy involved. This group has a lot of Canterbury daughters in it. As always, we are looking for stunning fleeces in these lambs, and if we can get some black-based, spotted sheep as well, that would be good. We never breed exclusively for colors or patterns, but I feel confident that the fleeces will be outstanding, so it’s time to experiment now with some other things.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

What I am working on

I am carding Dowager Countess for batts.  I am in love with this fleece.  It is so dense and crimpy and fine and the length is perfect.  So I'll card up the lighter into batts and then spin the fawn into a gradient yarn.
Carded locks ready for the drum carder

Dowager as a baby, can't stand how cute she was

So dense and squishy

Here she is from a summer photo shoot - just a lovely elegant ewe

Cobwebby fine and beautiful luster.  I have to say it has been one of the best fleeces I have processed in a long time.

Bagged up and ready for etsy

There is nothing on the wheel, I'll be washing Marianne's lamb fleece - can't sell as a raw fleece because it had a lot of second cuts and some matting from the rise.  

Pretty girls smelling Marianne's fleece - they think it might be hay.

I've been asked to post fleeces for sale so will be adding a page to the blog.  Hope you like fawn kat cause thats pretty much all I have left.

Still working Bousta Beanie - once again it will be huge.  Not sure what I am doing wrong.  Good thing I have a big head.

Will has laid claim on the socks I'm making from ram wool - he was already wearing the one I finished, had to track it down in his room in order to check dimensions on the second sock.  The boys love handspun knit socks.
Then will be washing these two skeins, one is the gradient and one is from Lady Mary.
Also will be posting on etsy these 2 bags of batting from Lady Mary - 1 oz batt, 3 per bag.  She is really nice, will be a lovely spin for someone.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Ewe a day - Yara

We were expecting big things out of many of our ewes this year, but none came with more anticipation than Fanny, who is one of our best. Fanny had a stunning yearling fleece and we were hoping to get a ewe lamb with the same qualities. Yara is that ewe lamb. She is out of Fanny and Nitro. It’s not surprising we are getting so many fawn katmogets, because for several years, we bred almost exclusively with katmogets and there are certainly some double patterned ewes out there. I don’t know if Fanny is one of them, but she might be. At any rate, Yara is not double patterned and that gives us more options in the future as we try to bring more balance to out flock colors and patterns.

And that is it for the ewe-a-day posts for 2017. Lots of good ewes, which means we will have many stunning ewes for sale this spring. The bulk of them will be fawn katmogets (hopefully not all), but that likely means that there will be some exceptional quality ewes for sale that would not be if they were a different color/pattern. Too soon to say. Next up, breeding groups.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Ewe a day - Lyanna

Lyanna is Meera’s twin. I won’t know until shearing which one I like better, but I think both are quite nice.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Ewe a day - Meera Reed

I often get bored with fawn katmogets as any regular reader knows. They are born, I forget about them, and then evaluate in September/October. That’s usually when I wonder where they have been all summer and how they ended up that nice. That is true of this girl. This is Meera Reed out of Mustang Sally and Mr. Darcy. Quite frankly, I expect lambs from sheep like that to be exceptionally nice, but it’s still a treat when it happens. We are now several generations removed from our first attempts at fine Shetlands, and we should be seeing quality like this fairly routinely (and we are).

Monday, January 8, 2018

Ewe a day - Brienne of Tarth

Brienne of Tarth is one of our favorite ewe lambs from this spring. She was one of the first born also. Unfortunately, she was born outside in a cold rain when I wasn’t home, but I think that shows her toughness. She is out of Elizabeth Bennet, one of our finest ewes, and Nitro. Clearly, she looks like Nitro. She is very fine and has the extra fleece length we were looking for when we put that breeding pair together. As I work to add to our ultra fine spotted ewe list, I’ll be looking for more like her.