Tag Archives: Spinning

Raw Coopworth and Romeldale CVM fleeces available

Shearing this spring yielded lovely fleeces.  Then lambing commenced and I have been slow to share info about the fleeces – but here they are!

All of my sheep wear coats during the fall, winter and spring to help keep their wool as clean as possible.  Each of the fleeces have been very carefully skirted to remove vegetable matter and soiled wool.  In most cases there are two options available, 1: the main body of the fleece with virtually no vegetable matter and very clean wool – this is to be sold as one unit and 2: the margins which have a small amount of vegetable matter and are just a bit more soiled – this can be purchased in smaller amounts which I will weigh out and sell by the pound.

If you don’t see a fleece here that meets your needs please let me know.  I do still have some wool available from earlier shearings.

White 100% Coopworth raw fleeces:

Hoglah: 7″ staple, 3 crimps/inch, lustrous.  Full fleece available.  Also, 2.25# available at $10.50/#.

Tirzah: 5.5″ staple, 5 crimps/inch, very fine for Coopworth.  Full fleece available.  Also, 2.7# available at $10.50/#.

Seneca: 4.5″ staple (also was sheared in the fall), 3 crimps/inch.  Full fleece available.  Also, 1.6# available at $10.50/#.

Tamarack: 6.5″ staple, 3 crimps/inch.  Full fleece available.  Also, 1.8# available at $10.50/#.

 

Natural Color 100% Coopworth raw fleeces:

Noah: 6″ staple, 3 crimps/inch.  Full fleece available.  Her black wool has mellowed to a lovely silver/grey.

Cappuccino: 5.5″ staple, 5 crimps/inch.  Full fleece is sold.   3.4# available at $10.50/#.

Java: 5.5″ staple, 4 crimps/inch.  Her fleece is the darkest brown I have.  Full fleece available.

 

Badger color 100% Romeldale CVM raw fleece:

‘Flax’: 3.5″ staple, 11 crimps/inch – super fine – perfect for against the skin items.  Full fleece available (oatmeal color).   Also, 3.4# mixed oatmeal/grey/brown is available at $16/#.

Contact us with your questions or to reserve the raw fleeces of your choice.

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New Ideas Part 2

In New Ideas Part 1, I introduced the Spring 2015 issue of Spin-Off magazine with the theme “A Celebration of Stash”, referring to the materials spinners, knitters and any other hobbyists have stored away for some future project.  I always try to look to my personal collection or “stash” before I look elsewhere when starting something new.

Earlier this year I taught a class on knitting with multiple colors, which is technically called stranded knitting, but is often referred to as Fair Isle knitting.  My introduction to the technique was through Norwegian patterns and basically you create a picture with each stitch by carrying the yarn behind (the strand) in a horizontal float and knitting with it where appropriate to the picture.

In preparation for teaching the class, I borrowed a number of books from the library.  I found one in particular that I really  like and have since added it to my personal library (Thanks Santa!):  Mastering Color Knitting by Melissa Leapman

The students in my class had taken the sock knitting class last year, and are now adept at working on double point needles, so we started off with a small project to learn the basics of working with two colors.  I found a project on Ravelry: Colour-stranded Cup Cozy, by Anna Daku that I thought would be a good way for them to master the skills of stranding (reading the grid paper diagram, creating the horizontal floats, etc.) before advancing to a larger project like a hat, cowl, mittens, etc.

cup cozy

Slide one of these washable wool cup cozies onto a cup from your local coffee shop and your coffee will stay warmer and your finger tips won’t smart.  And…you’ll be styling!

For my larger project – I’ve been wanting to make myself a hat with ear flaps for a while.  So, I started digging through my collection of yarn but didn’t find any that was the right thickness or color.  I’m currently trying to bring some semblance of order to my office space and so I had my collection of dribs and drabs from classes, workshops and my own experimentation pulled out and I found something I could get really excited about!  But, was it enough for an ear flap hat?

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Handed carded Coopworth wool dyed with fresh indigo leaves

Background on the dyed wool: My friend Terry grows her own Japanese Indigo to use in dyeing wool from her Shetland sheep flock.  A while back, when she was gearing up to do some dyeing, she decided to make a mini workshop out of it.  I was thrilled to participate and brought along a small bag of white Coopworth wool from my flock to see how it would take the dye.  What you see above is the result!  Terry soaked the indigo leaves overnight in rain water at room temperature and from that preparation extracted the deeper blue.  The icy pale blue is the exhaust from the same preparation.  The warm caramel tan is a second extraction after boiling the leaves.  What a range!  What beautiful colors that are completely comfortable together!  If you would like to learn more about dyeing with plant materials (it is on my bucket list), a good source of information is The Dyer’s Garden by Rita Buchanan.

OK, so now I’m determined to get an ear flap had out of this little bit of lovely wool.  I spun singles and plied them into a two-ply yarn.  If felt like I was over plying, but I finally got a yarn that was balanced after washing to set the twist.  The gauge swatch knit up to about 7 sts per inch using US size 2 needles.  I started out with 74 yards of darker blue, 58 yards of lighter blue and 64 yards of tan.  To keep this challenging, my search uncovered many hat patterns for two colors of yarn and gauges of 6 sts per inch.  I knew it was crucial for me to use all three colors in order to have enough yarn.

So, I adapted several patterns I like.  I started with the ear flaps from Cap for Learning Stranded Knitting by Cynthia Wasner.  Then I moved on to the star pattern from Norwegian Star Earflap Hat by Tiennie.  But, to make the hat large enough, I added one more star.  From here, I alternated between the three colors and looked to the peeries and borders shown in Mastering Color Knitting for inspiration.  I pulled out a pad of graph paper and drew my pictures for each section.

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The end result seen from the stranded side

Coopworth wool is on the coarser end of the wool fiber diameter spectrum*, which makes it extremely durable, though perhaps a bit itchy on my forehead.  For this reason, as well as to eliminate the risk of snagging the floats and to make it extra warm and wind proof, I chose to line the hat with a thin polar fleece.  I made a search online to get ideas for how to shape the polar fleece lining and discovered a marvelous resource… from right here in Wisconsin!  TECHknitting: Fully lining hats with polar fleece a blog post by TECHknitter was just exactly what I was looking for.

Even though I had added stitches, my hat was still a bit snug when I finished lining it, so I searched the house for something to slightly stretch the hat over while blocking it.

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Lined hat during blocking

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The smallest ice cream bucket in our collection was just the thing.  My new ear flap hat fits just perfectly now!

And here’s what is left.  Phew!

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*Coopworth fiber diameter = 35-39, Merino fiber diameter = 18 – 24

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Welcome Flax!

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What a cute little guy!

I decided that I have many situations where a sheep ‘buddy’ would be helpful.

First, I have so few ewes that I only need one ram.  This means that there are times during the year when the ram is by himself.

Second, I don’t breed my ewes while they are lambs.  I wait until they are yearlings.  This means they spend the first winter away from the adult ewes who are with the ram starting in December.

Having a wether is a great way to provide a buddy in each of these circumstances.  I could just select a ram from my own flock and castrate him, but a wether is an opportunity to have a different wool around to play with (since he can neither breed or be bred and therefore does not risk cross breeding in my purebred Coopworth flock).  I thought a lot about what breed I would like to branch out into.  I determined that I would like to have a CVM.  This is a rare breed and helping to maintain or increase their numbers appealed to me.  CVM is also a fine wool breed and this contrasts with the Coopworth which is a long wool breed.  Now I will have within my flock wool that is appropriate for close to my skin and wool that is long, lustrous and appropriate for outerwear, rugs, etc.  CVM stands for California Variegated Mutant which is the natural color variant of the breed Romeldale.

I located this little fella at Hillspring Eco-Farm.  He was born in late February of this year.  Linda, from Hillspring, named him Flax in line with her fabric and fiber theme for naming this year.  The photo above was taken shortly after he arrived on our farm in late May.  He spent about a week on his own and then another week on the other side of the fence from Hemlock, our ram.  They were introduced by being crowded into a pen for about 30 hours where Hemlock couldn’t do any damage as he established that he was boss.  They have since been grazing together amicably and seem to confirm that having a buddy is comforting.

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Shearing Day

Here’s the flock – Before…and…After.  Rain was threatened, so I created a makeshift stall for them in the garage.  It got quite windy, so it was nice to keep the wool from blowing around.  This kept our neighbor Rick, the shearer, happy as well.

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I’m beginning to learn how to skirt fleeces.  I created another makeshift item – a skirting table – to help with the process.  My intention is to build an official skirting table at the right height and large enough to accommodate fleeces as large as our ram’s before the next go round.  The one I’m using now isn’t quite large enough and is tough on my back.

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The flock takes up a lot less space now.  They are taking a bit of time to get accustomed to their new look.  They don’t seem to recognize themselves or each other, so far.

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Ram meets Ewes

Very exciting day on the farm.  Virtually everyone got moved.  The wethers are all the way east now and the ewes moved to new digs just west of their previous location.  AND, the ram got his wish and is FINALLY in with the girls, phew!

All goes well and in about 5 months we’ll have a whole band of adorable little lambs running around.

Everybody now has names and I would like to introduce you to the players:

The Boy:

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Samson

The Lovely Girls:

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Noah

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Hoglah

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Mahlah

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Tirzah

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Micah

Now, to explain the names…

I was looking for names of five sisters.  I found some mountains in Asia and the British Isles and these were unpronounceable.  There are always the Bennet sisters from Pride and Prejudice, but it seemed weird to have a ewe with the same name as me (Jane).  I stumbled across these names from the Old Testament and loved the liberated ladies aspect of this story.  To paraphrase, Zelophehad died with no sons to inherit his money.  His daughters, Noah, Mahlah, Tirzah, Micah and Hoglah went to the leadership and managed to get Jewish law changed so that his money could remain in the tribe.  Normally they would have to marry outside of the tribe, but in this case, they were allowed to marry men in the tribe thereby keeping his inheritance within the tribe.  If you would like all the details, have a look at Numbers in the Old Testament.

I had intended to name my rams after Greek or Roman gods, but when I bought Samson, he was already referred to as Sam and a number of his ancestors were also called Sam.  I decided to call him Samson.  I like the Old Testament tie in (Judges) as well.  And, if he would be very gentle after shearing in the spring, that would be a bonus.

My very first feeder lambs happened to be Jacobs, so I’m developing a history of Old Testament themes (Jacob and the spotted sheep – Genesis.)

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New girls on the farm!

5 lovely yearling Coopworth ewes

A particularly regal pose

We brought these girls home from Carol and Paul Wagner’s Hidden Valley Farm and Woolen Mill on Easter Monday.  They behaved well on the road trip and settled in easily here.  These registered Coopworth yearling ewes are the foundation for my permanent flock – an exciting step for me!

Coopworth is a longwool breed that was developed in New Zealand in the 1950’s by crossing Border Leicester rams with Romney ewes.  We wanted a breed that is medium sized, with good quality meat and wool for spinning and fiber arts and Coopworth fits the bill.

We’ll be raising our flock on rotationally grazed pasture and will be able to begin marketing their wool next spring and meat late in 2013.

 

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