Indigo, Size Extra Large

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L – R: Indigo dyed GCN blend singles, Indigo dyed Curly/Bing worsted weight 2-ply

Every want to duplicate a yarn? Well, I’ve been known to fall for a pattern along the way, knit from some dang un-standard spin. This time, it’s a series of hats, Elizabeth Zimmerman style, originally knit in Sheepsdown, a peculiar fat singles spun from extraordinarily long staple fleece.

Well, my sheep have fleece varying from 3″ to 7″ and even 8″ long – if the shearer doesn’t find his way to the farmette before June! Believe it or not, I have a couple of those tucked away. Ram fleeces. Big, brawny, messy, and soft as all get out. Most of all, the fiber is long and strong – rams and wethers seem to have such an easy time of it.

I took a bag of un-dyed ram that I’d washed a couple years ago, and a bag of indigo dyed ram that I’d dyed last summer, and weighed out about 4 oz each. Then, I hauled out the drum carder and went to work. A lot of picking later, I had a few terribly flooofy batts, and went to work at Ramona, my ailing Fricke.

Okay okay, we get into ruts. We fall into habits. We take the easy road. I’ve tried, really hard, to avoid the trap of spinning the elusive froghair. I am not a laceweight knitter. With eyes this old, I can’t see laceweight stitches on the needles! So I don’t bother. My fatal flaw is this: I spin for knitters, not solely for meditation. This isn’t something I’m doing just for my mental health. This endeavor is a practical one. And this time, I wanted to knit someone else’s idear that had been designed with a giant fat single. Sheepsdown, if you look up the specs, and I don’t have them in front of me, so don’t quote me, measures out to about 85 yd per 4.4 oz. Yeah, that is b i g and airy. Consider my normal bobbin full of DK-worsted weight yarn is from 150 – 200 yards per 2.5 oz. I needed to get A LOT of air into my spin. So.

I pulled my drive band over the biggest of big gears – (less twist), and tightened my tension tighter than I ever had before (faster draw). As I worked, I found that the further apart I could keep my hands, the more air I could draft. And faster. Work faster. Took a few seconds before I found just the right combination of hands and tension and speed. By the time I was done with the first 1.5 oz, I had 46 yards of pretty decent giant singles, and I was – happy. No, Happy, with a capital H.

There’s a little more carding to do lateron, and a bit more spinning. Tomorrow, this batch of glorious loftiness will get a wash, and then I will knit. It’ll be a fast knit. On big fat needles. And then, then New Year can start with no complaints from me.

Last Night’s Spins

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Patty Showing Off

Pretty Patty. Soft Patty. Luscious Patty. Pink Patty. I couldn’t get her off my bobbins yesterday. Batts carded from the exhausted palest of pale madder vats…hard to tell there was any color until pressing her up against a bit of natural Gulf Coast.

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Patty at a Party in Silks

Here she is again, not just Pink Patty, but Orangeade (also madder) Patty, and Early Morning (indigo) Patty. Too big for a sample, this Party Patty came in just under 100 yards. Worsted weight. Lighter than air.

On a mission to clear out 2015, I intend to card a box of indigo and madder dyed Gulf Coast, and yellow and brown GC blends. And which fleeces might like a dip in onion skins or sandalwood?

I was left behind today, so I’ll trade wood for fiber and continue to get a jump on January skeinage.



The Best Gift Ever

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Mary & Twin Ewe Lambs Alice and Elizabeth

Stuck for the perfect gift for the spinner in your life? Well, consider the Adopt-a-Sheep CSA that we offer at Dove’s Roost Farm. I do all the “dirty work” caring for the sheep, “adoptive parents” get pictures of “their” sheep, monthly farm updates, and a fresh fleece from the spring shearing. The lambs in these pictures are all grown up now, and this spring we will shear their first full fleeces. We have a flock of 22 sheep.

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Rosie and her little boy Bud

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Our Shearer, Jonathon, and one of the Ladies

Here’s the info from our etsy listing:

When you “adopt-a-sheep” from Dove’s Roost Farm, you help us care for our flock of heritage breed sheep, and receive an entire fleece in return. The Spanish brought sheep to Florida in the 1500’s. Our Gulf Coast Native Sheep are descendants of that original flock. Over the years, the early sheep were abandoned and they became feral. Over time, they adapted to the harsh hot humid environment of the Gulf Coast. These amazing animals have a high resistance to parasites and hoof rot. We do not have to worm the flock, making them very environmentally friendly, with healthy naturally high-functioning systems. They are good natured, funny, happy animals. We raise these beautiful hardy sheep to preserve this heritage breed, and because we enjoy living with them so much.

Your adoption fee of $150.00 guarantees you a fresh fleece from the next Spring shearing. Our sheep have lovely low-lanolin fleece that is a joy to spin. The fleece will be skirted to remove “tags” but inevitably, there will be some VM, as we cannot coat our sheep in this climate. They are pastured much of the year, eating a mixture of bahia and other native grasses, blackberries, and wildflowers. Seeds, bits of grass, and hay do find their way into the fleece, but are easily picked out. The fleece will be rolled so that you can remove it from the bag, unroll it, and see the entire fleece as it came off the sheep. This will allow you to select and grade the fleece for your spinning projects.

Adult Gulf Coast Sheep fleece ranges from 4 to 6 inches in length. Ewes’ fleeces are between 3 – 5 pounds, rams’ fleeces are larger, up to 8 or 9 pounds.

In addition to that lovely fiber, you will receive monthly updates on “your” sheep and the flock, photos of your sheep, instructions on scouring your fleece, and the knowledge that you are helping to protect and sustain this endangered heritage breed.

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Yummy Gulf Coast Native Fiber, hot off the Sheep

Interested? Feel free to message me here, or go right on over to the etsy store and Adopt-a-Gulf Coast Native Sheep!

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Thank you!



Lily & Sammas all Fat

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Gulf Coast Natives Lily & Sammas

Silly to post this picture, I suppose. But, I’m all excited. I wanted to make the next best thing to an unspun yarn. Low tension, low twist, rustic – a real softy…ya know? So, I carded a couple batts of Lily’s lamb fleece…all nubbly and bumpy, and a couple batts of Sammas’ primo yella goods…perfect crimp and 6″ staple, and spun two really fat singles from batt strips. Then, plied them. The wool was spun in the grease, so that it would be an easy spin – not fally-aparty at all. I washed the skeins this evening. Talk about soft! WOWZA! I’ll see if a picture of the yarn all dry and snowy will show “soft.” Tomorrow is another day. I heard that some where.