Tag Archives: Gulf Coast sheep fiber

Hurray for Sheep Festivals!

The Massachusetts Sheep and Wool Festival was this past weekend. I wasn’t driving so I decided to engage in risky wool activity. Using combs with many sharp points in a moving car.

combing in car

combing fiber in the car

Steve expressed concern that if I liked combing in the car I might try to buy a picker at the festival and use it in the car on the way home. ūüôā But I didn’t.

picker with fiber

wool picker

Cotswold family

Cotswold mother and babies

The cutest thing I saw was a mother Cotswold sheep with her two babies.  Cotswolds are rare sheep and their fleece is long and curly. For some reason I loved the mother even more than the babies. I think it was her calm but observant demeanor and lovely curls.

I learned a lot about processing flax plants to be spun into linen at a very informative display in the fiber tent. It is quite a process to get it ready to spin but it is  durable. She had linens from the 1800s still in perfect condition. Funny how we still call sheets linens even though mine at least are cotton.

Hetchels to process flax

Hetchel to prepare flax for spinning

 

 

 

 

 

 

Needless to say I found it exciting to see more sharp pointy tools.

Our friend Dorothy had her booth full of beautifully naturally dyed yarn and fleece from her Icelandic sheep.

dorothy's booth

Dorothy’s naturally dyed Icelandic skeins and fibers

Dorothy's fleeces

Dorothy’s Icelandic fleeces

She can be found at https://www.facebook.com/dorothy.benedict

We had a covert fiber meet up at the trunk of the car and later this lovely box of alpaca fibers Alpaca fiber boxto spin resulted. Even though half of them are mine I still want to buy it.

 

All in all  pretty good day. Spent time with friends, saw lots of sheep and learned new fiber information. What more could I ask?

I returned home with car combed fiber¬† without impaling my head or piercing my arm. They will look so pretty in batts. and I felt so efficient.¬† Should I keep a set of combs in the car that I can use at traffic lights? ūüôā Or use to fight off car jackers?

combed Gulf Coast

Fiber combed in car

The blue fiber is from a Leicester longwool sheep and the coral colored is from a Gulf Coast sheep named Fernando. They are both rare and both live on Iris Creek Farm in Scotland CT.

Lots of good memories made on that day.

 

Onward to Spring

Here are some random thoughts and updates as I move towards spring.

I gasped quietly when I saw in my  yard on April 1st:

crocus April 1 (1)

First Crocuses!

The snow is receding like a glacier and this gives perspective on my excitement at the sight:

crocus April 1 (2)

Crocuses by snow

On Saturday spinning friends gathered at my house and as promised some big scary dangerous equipment came also.¬† The picker is used to open fiber up for spinning and is the first step to getting rid of any short fibers and vegetation. Short fibers can be the result of what are called second cuts when shearing. The path of the shearing blades is not always exact and they may have to go over an area again- like when a lawn is mowed and a small length remains on the side of the path-that results in some short fibers in the fleece. A few second cuts and some vegetation are not a problem and come out with processing.¬† If I am choosing fleeces and there are a lot of short cuts and a lot of vegetation I pass it by since a lot of time would be needed to get them out and wouldn’t be worth it.

I love the sign that comes with the picker.  I feel so important because of it.  Like I operate heavy construction machinery.

picker front

Wool picker warning

Here is why it works so well, why we wear protective gloves and why I would never have it anywhere no matter how well guarded in a house with children. What a great feature it would make in a murder mystery.

picker with fiber

Picker with fiber

I have some beautiful Cotswold fiber I dyed green in it here. Truth be told I seemed to have felted it a bit so opened it up with the mighty picker jaws that I swing back and forth. Now I will hand comb it to get out any end felted fibers that came off and will be able to use it good as new. Cotswold is a rare breed with long lustrous curly locks. Its shine, or sheen, remains when spun. Some day I will talk more about that breed since it is so beautiful.

My last Gulf Coast fiber from my sheep of the month March  is Fernando. Here is the picture I posted of him as unprocessed washed locks.

Fernando

Fernando

Here he is after going twice through the picker:

Fernando picked

Fernando picked

He weighs 22 ounces. Not sure what I will do with him but he’ll be ready when I am.

So, you know you are an out of control spinner when you were on an escalator yesterday at Logan airport and you see on the floor below tiles that create different Massachusetts scenes such as a runner in the Boston Marathon and you are delighted to see a spinner at an old walking spinning wheel pictured so you stop when you get to it and realize it is a fisherman at the wheel of an old sailing ship. Which you love too but not the same. Darn it.

Funny Spinning Fact

It is a scientific fact that every spinner who has a significant other be he or she called husband, boy friend, girl friend, partner has gone through an initial time when this person has tried to get the spinner to limit their fiber stashes, and failed. Supposedly reasonable comments such as “don’t you have enough” “what will you do with it” “where will you put it” are silently¬† ignored and after a time they give up. It is bigger than they are. But here is a funny story about old time spinners in Iceland that I read in Bette Hochburg’s book Spin Span Spun. It says that after the men finished their work they would card wool for the women and someone would tell stories and lead the group in singing.¬† I am sitting here enjoying the image of our partners engaging in that together. Especially singing. But I know they won’t go that far!

Last but not least:

Update on discarding fiber paper clutter:

I have been working my way through paper files that I have on fiber and fiber related information. I am happy to announce that I am done and since I like to weigh things I can say I have discarded and recycled 19 pounds of paper and files. Nineteen. Now my home files and my fiber files fit in one file cabinet drawer. Hurray! Can you get rid of some too??¬† It isn’t mandatory to weigh it, just dig in, do 5 a day like I did!

Happy April and the start of sheep and wool festival season in New England. Saturday April 26th is the Connecticul Sheep, Wool and Fiber Festival  in Vernon Connecticut.  http://www.ctsheep.org/sheep_and_wool_festival

Let the games begin!

 

 

Unexplainable

People sometimes ask me what made me first think about learning to spin. I used to ask myself that and then gave up trying to figure it out long ago.¬† It didn’t come from any¬† life experiences. I didn’t even know any spinners. Maybe some deep genetic influence rising from the past? I try to tell people the truth- that it came from within me-almost welled up- and some are satisfied, others still don’t understand and I don’t worry about that. I am too busy doing what I am happily driven to do!

What I do know is that I

1) can’t imagine my life without the inner fulfillment that it gives me and the friends I have made because they share the love of it

2)  understand the infatuation people have with their interests even when I have no personal interest whatsoever in what they enjoy. I know how it feels to them and I respect that.

3)¬† feel a bit sorry for people who don’t have a grand passion whatever that might be. In addition to creating wonderful communities for ourselves these passions are always there just waiting for us to make time to indulge in them. They are also very therapeutic. But maybe even though I don’t understand it, many people are happy without a grand passion. That’s fine.

But then how did I learn? Spinners have never been found in the yellow pages and the internet was not a source of information then. I will write more about that next time because I’m dying to get back to fiber itself which this month is Gulf Coast Native sheep wool!

My previous post had pictures of them and information about them and their fiber. I currently have Gulf Coast fiber from three sheep. For fun and to distinguish our vast amounts of fiber we often name the fiber for the sheep it came from. The creamy fiber below is Sophie. She has moved but then lived on Cape Cod. Here I am with her son Boone a few years ago.

Me with Boone

I have 8 oz. of her springy fiber left which I combed and then carded into batts which are seen below. I¬† used the rest of her fiber for outer socks for her shepherd and wove some of it into coasters after dyeing it green. Her strong textured yarn was used for both part of the warp and the weft. It is a coarse yarn, lovely in its own way, not to be spurned because it can’t be worn next to the skin. Another form of respect I guess because I aim to use all my fiber in ways that fit its basic nature and not try to make it into something it isn’t.

Sophie with coaster

Next I have fiber from two Gulf Coast sheep from the same farm. They live on Iris Creek Farm in Scotland CT and their shepherd, Keri, also raises the rare Leicester Longwools. Her fleeces are huge and gorgeous and always sell right away at the CT Sheep Festival- https://www.ctsheep.org/sheep_and_wool_festival    which is always the last Saturday in April. Keri has a Facebook page called Iris Creek Farm which has pictures of her sheep and darling lambs.

This white fiber is her Henna before I dyed her. It was the last ounce of her and had some vegetation in it. Most of her fleece was free of it but there is always a bit since after all they are animals who are outside most of the time. Again, I was not going to spurn her because of some vegetation so I decided to dye it and I will comb it to get out the vegetation and then card it into a batt maybe with some other color and some sparkle. I won’t know what I want to combine her with until I sit down to do it. I’ll post about it when it is done. Here she is now:

GC Henna before dyedDyed Henna GC Blue Purple

A funny story about Henna: I was so taken with her fleece that I got a few years ago that I e-mailed Keri before the next CT Sheep Festival to see if I could have her latest fleece. She told me that Henna had so well¬† evaded people trying to catch her for shearing that she didn’t get shorn. Perhaps some of her primitive feral ancestry was coming out (see my last post for details). As aggravating as it must have been for those trying to catch her, you have to admire her. At least I do! She hasn’t had such luck since then.

Next time I will write about Fernando. He also lives on Iris Creek Farm. Lest you think spinning is all sweetness and light be prepared later on to see some pretty scary fiber processing tools that could double as medieval torture instruments. Definitely could figure in murder mysteries.

I would love to hear anyone else’s experiences with Gulf Coast Native sheep. Also how others explain their love of spinning to people who can’t believe anyone wants to do this. Maybe like me, just a shrug of the shoulders which are covered in a handspun sweater named Inez?