16th July 2008
Three skeins of a very soft Icelandic lamb blended with bits of red and charcoal mohair. The sheep was one of our early acquisitions, an Icelandic lamb named "Cream". She was a wild thing as a lamb, and never calmed down. I got one shearing from her, a lovely flowing typical Icelandic fleece with very soft undercoat. I processed the fleece myself, on a (then new) drum carder gift from DH. :-) The batts sat for three (?) years while I decided what to do with them. Finally, I decided to spin them up in a Lopi style single, but 2 ply it for balance. They're very low twist and it caused some drift when I was plying. My intention is to knit mittens, perhaps, then felt them.
This is the Bird in Hand knit-along that started with the Shetland Sheep Group. I'm not sure anyone actually finished their pair of mittens - mine are ALMOST done. :-) They're knitted with handspun Shetland. The white is from my flock - Daisy and Daphne with some of Acclaim's alpaca fleece blended in. The variegated red-brown is some kool-aid dyed roving that I bought before we had Shetland sheep. It is wondrous, soft and clean stuff. I just 2 plied it and didn't intentionally keep the colors distinct. You can see the subtle variation, especially on the left hand mitten. Even though my gauge is usually spot on, and I only knit these a couple months apart, the left hand mitten is larger than the right. sigh More fulling/felting is in order. I hope I can size them without losing the pattern definition. This was a challenging knit. No pattern row repeats. Each one is different. I got most of Mitten Two done in the car on the way to and from BSG.
At Shepherds' Extravaganza this year, Sharon Hayden of Bel Tine Farm (who does custom mill spinning) had these eye-catching skeins of Cotswold yarn for sale! I'd been eyeing the Farmhouse rug in Knitter's Stash for a while, and this yarn jumped out at me as being perfect for the project - lustrous, strong and lively colors! All of the colors were there except for the sky blue and forest green. I had those dyes at home, so bought extra white and dyed them myself. :-) You can see I haven't gotten far on the project, but it will go quickly once I sit down and just do it. It is an intarsia project, so I've wound each skein on a ball winder and put it inside a ziploc baggie to keep them contained. So far, it's working.
Fair Isle is one of my favorite knits. I just love the natural colors in Fair Isle patterns. This is another pattern from the Knitter's Stash book (one of my favorite knitting books, along with Homespun, Handknit). I include it in the photo as an example, because what I've really been doing is gathering a spectrum of natural colors from my Shetlands and blending them with similar colors of Alpaca in an 80:20 ratio.
All of these samples are from our flock, gathered over the last 4 years. I now have 14 different sheep's worth of roving in the Shetland/Alpaca blend plus four 100% Shetlands.