Feeling Sheepish

I keep hoping to do a nice long blog post about all the exciting stuff happening on the sheep farm. But all the exciting stuff is also keeping me super busy, especially when you add it to all the other things I am working on for crochet designs/classes, needle felting designs/classes and summer break family stuff.

In spite of all the madness, I am very happy I decided to become a partner with the sheep farm. Every time I go over to the farm to help with our flock I am smiling. This spring we have 11 new lambs. They are a lot of work but also great entertainment.

We will be looking to sell many of our lambs in the Autumn, though we will likely be keeping our 4 ewe lambs. Next year, if all our mature ewes have twins, we will definitely be looking to sell some of our sheep to other farms.

We had 3 sets of twins this year, plus a 4th set with only 1 survivor. The rest of our lambs were singles. We have a fairly wide range of ages of lambs with most of them being born in mid to late May. One set of twins came the last week of March and our last lamb came this past Friday, June 22.

I’ve been enjoying all the lambs, but these 2 are my favorites. We are calling them Cedar and Cinnamon. They both love getting scritches on their chins and ears. They also tend to snuggle with each other a lot.

The lambs all nurse from their moms, but after just a few days they start nibbling on the hay and lamb feed. They especially seem to like to snitch hay thru the fences when we have birthing pens set up in the barn. That white lamb in the front is Aspen and the grey multi-color lamb is Larch (or Andre the Giant as my partner calls him).  Larch is 2 weeks younger than Aspen and they are almost the same size.

Gertie and Gizmo are our oldest lambs. They were born the last week of March. Gizmo, the male, will be moving out of the ewe pen soon. Both of them are nearly as big as the adults at this point.

Since I last posted I have finished skirting and picking the fleeces that are going to be made into yarn. I also made a trip to the Alpaca ranch in Castlerock to get fleeces to blend with our wool. Hopefully I will have all the yarn back by the middle of July.

If all goes to plan we will be selling our yarn thru a couple of shops in Colorado before the end of October 2018.

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TNNA Goodies

I’m back from my little break and I have so much news for you. It’s likely going to take a few blog posts.

This summer has been moving fast and it seems every weekend has been full of excitement. First June weekend was sheep adventures, second was TNNA, and the third was playing with my dear niece and her adorable family.

I’ve shared quite a bit about the sheep adventures, though there will be more to tell on that front. For the moment though let’s roll the clock back to the second weekend and talk about the TNNA Summer Trade Show in Columbus, Ohio. For those of you that are new to my blog, or have never heard of TNNA, it is The National Needlearts Association and is a trade organization for folks that sell all sorts of fiber, yarn, needle crafting tools and supplies. It also includes needlearts teachers, designers and bloggers. You can learn more about TNNA at their website.

I had a little shorter visit at TNNA this time than I usually do, but it was still super productive. I flew out of Denver late Saturday morning. Had one of the most relaxing and enjoyable flights ever because of my seat mates. The woman at the window was traveling with her King Charles Cavalier Spaniel and he cuddled with me for most of the flight. Might not have been ideal for folks that don’t love dogs or critters, but it was perfect for me. The woman on the aisle was also a dog lover, so we had a great time.

Saturday evening was the Business & Creative Services dinner. Lots of interesting conversations with colleagues and show vendors. There was a great goodie bag. I made sure to go to each of the vendors during the rest of the show to thank them for their sponsorship.

Sunday morning I had an inspiring class with Zontee Hou called “Become a Video Whiz”. Just Wow! I feel like my brain was so full after that class that I needed to sit somewhere quietly for a couple of hours and think. Unfortunately that wasn’t an option that day, fortunately Zontee always provides detailed slides and hand-outs that let me re-live the class now I am home.

I needed to spend my Sunday after the class on the showroom floor to meet with a number of yarn companies and to talk tools with some of the other companies (like the lively folks at Clover).

It’s always exciting to see what products Clover has, both the old and new. I’ve got a few to experiment with over the next couple of months, so be sure to check back for those reviews.

It was also a blast to see my friend Eloise. She and I have known each other for ages, long before she began working with Clover. We had a good chuckle when she started working with them and I told her they were one of my very favorite crafting tool companies. We were laughing at this show because she lives in Denver, yet the last 2 times we have seen each other have been at shows that we had to fly to. Life just gets too busy and crazy at times.

I also found some other booths I needed to check out. Like the “Knitting Abacus”, “Glowving” from Kreinik and “Brittany Knitting Needles & Crochet Hooks”.

It’s not a real TNNA show without a stop by Daven’s “Love & Leche” booth for beautifully scented lotion bars for keeping my hands from drying out up here on the mountain.

One of the most wonderful things about being at TNNA is the yarn. A rainbow of colors and so many beautiful soft fibers. I can get very lost seeing all the yarn. That joke about being overwhelmed by yarn fumes? It could really happen at TNNA. There are so many new yarns to see.

The pile of yarn above is what I came home with, there will also be some more coming to my house soon. I’ve been sketching and making design notes on each of these in preparation for creating gorgeous new crochet designs. Some of these yarns are brand new to me, so I will also be posting reviews of those yarns as I get to work with them.

Sunday evening I got together with a bunch of my designer friends and we went out to dinner at Bare Burger. I loved this restaurant. Local sourced and organic food, cooks and wait staff that actually know what Gluten Free really means plus fun, quirky décor like the awesome decoupaged bear heads hanging all over the restaurant walls.

One stop that was at the top of my list for TNNA was the Unicorn Wash booth. I met Melanie, the owner, at my first TNNA show. You might recall I mentioned her when talking about my marvelous book about sheep? It was her drawing that I won it from. I wanted to make sure to check in with her and discuss her products because I have another big piece of news. I am now a part owner with my neighbor Margie of a sheep flock.

I bet most of you aren’t that surprised, after all the sheep adventures of the last couple of years. It’s been my dream for a long time and Margie gave me the push I needed to do it. Life is going to be even more interesting and busy now, but I figure it will off-set the gap that is opening in my life as my sons are becoming ever more independent. I know one thing after only one week of working with the sheep regularly, I’m going to be getting in great shape.

Hang onto your hooks and needles my dear readers, it’s going to be a wild time on the mountain.

 

 

Learning More about Sheep

I’m headed off to the TNNA Summer Trade Show this coming weekend. In between all the fun of packing and preparing for the meetings I’ll be having at the show, I’ve been reading a book that I won at my first ever TNNA show. That was the Winter 2012 show in Phoenix, Arizona.

This is “The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook” written by Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius. It is shock full of information especially from the standpoint of how various breeds of fiber animals fiber behaves in yarn and spinning. The first 30 pages are full of basic information on fiber and fiber animals.

Part 1 is all about Sheep and is divided by geographical region that the sheep are known for with breed specific sub-sections. Each breed specific section is really informative about the origin of the breed and the type of fiber that comes from that breed. There are photographic samples of the fiber; in both raw and cleaned form, a short length of hand spun, woven and knitted swatches, and sometimes multiple samples of carding and combing the fiber.

Following the specific sheep sections is Part 2, which deals with the other fiber creatures. It’s divided by critter sections: Goats, Goat crosses, Camelids (includes Alpaca & Llamas), Other Critters (Bison, Musk Ox, Rabbits, and Yak to name a few).

After my fun adventure with Margie’s herd last week I had wanted to learn more about the breed she is raising. She has CVM sheep, which is the abbreviation for California Variegated Mutant. A name for a geek to love. The CVM sheep are considered a Critical Conservation Breed. This means that there are not a lot of them around, keeping the breed going is important to maintain diversity in domestic sheep stocks. This is one of the reasons that Margie chose this breed of sheep for her herd.

Margie had told me a little about the breed, but I wanted to find out what their origin was. I knew I had tucked this book away on my reference shelf and am really glad I dug it out. I will be doing quite a bit of reading in this book the next couple of months. There is terrific information in there about sheep breeds, spinning and felting of fibers.

If you are interested in learning more about the fibers that go into your yarn or you like to spin your own yarn, this is a great book to have on your reference shelf.