Friday, 27 June 2014

Feeling Sheepish

As a result of my involvement with the South of England show, I met a very nice couple who have a smallholding. This week I was invited to visit their home and meet some of their flock of Coloured Ryeland sheep, with the possibility of buying some of their fleece. As you know dear reader I'm just starting to learn the art of spinning wool.

These are my absolute favourite sheep. Yes, I know what you're thinking she has a favourite sheep? Strange woman. But you can see why. They are just like huge teddy bears, are very docile natured, and they have the most amazing fleece, which is used for high-quality tweeds, hand-knitting wools and hosiery. Dare I say it they are good for meat as well.

They are probably the oldest recognised British sheep breed, originating over eight hundred years ago, and are among the minority breeds under the umbrella of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

I'm so smitten by them I'm contemplating having my own when we get our next house. As well as the hens, dogs et al.

For the moment though I have to master their fleece.

I deposited some of the fleece in cold water to soak over night, then decanted small amounts into another bowl to wash thoroughly before spinning the water out and popping into the greenhouse to dry.






I realise that my first efforts at spinning will probably create a very uneven yarn but I'm thinking it might be good enough to use to weave a small rug for the bedroom. I already have a smashing chocolate brown sheepskin rug that I bought last year at the Chatsworth Farm shop, but I have space for another rug and these natural colours will work perfectly.

I'd be super pleased if the yarn looks anything like this.


Then I'm in with a chance of creating something like this.


Well that's the theory anyway.

23 comments:

  1. Oh they are gorgeous, I don't think your strange having a favourite sheep, I have a favourite chicken! ..... ok maybe we're both bonkers?. I would love to learn to spin but I'm allergic to lanolin, your spinning is great and I love the colours.

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    1. Julee if you are allergic to lanolin then you need to spin Alpaca fleece there is no lanolin in it, Alpaca yarn is perfect for those who are allergic to wool.

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  2. Baaaa! What else can l say....!
    You can't pull the wool over my eyes..! :).
    Well..Here's a little yarn...

    Seriously! Now! Couple of miles away from me
    up in a village called Ibberton, is an Alpaca farm,
    and sheep, run by a lovely lady called Rosemary....
    Take a little peek, when you've time...As she shears
    her own animals, for the wool, goes to exhibitions,
    and, could be of some help, if need be...So!
    westhillalpacas.blogspot.co.uk
    You can mention me....HeHe! Not long ago, l had
    a Cria..(Baby Alpaca)...Named after Maria.....She all
    grown up now, and one of the whitest of whites, up
    at the farm....! :>).

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for that Willie. I had thought I may have some Alpacas myself, but I think the Ryelands are top of the pops at the moment.

      Jean x

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  3. I think those sheep look lovely and seem like they have a dense fleece, I am so looking forward to getting stuck into spinning again, are you teaching yourself or having lesson.

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    1. Hi Dawn, I'm having lessons from my friend Ann who is the high priestess of yarn. She is the lovely lady who tutors at my workshops.

      Jean x

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  4. The beachy head countryside centre in Eastbourne have demos spinning wool Jean there are pots of different breeds of sheep with some very different fleeces

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    1. Thanks very much for the tip David. I'll pop in and take a look next time I'm down that way.

      Jean x

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    2. I must remember to ckeck for typos Jean

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    3. Are they not in pots then? What a disappointment :)

      Jean x

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  5. I am really looking forward to seeing your spinning, and the sheep are so handsome.

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  6. Ryelands were my favourites too back in the days when we kept sheep, we crossed them with a Jacob Ram and had some really hardy sheep with multi colour fleeces. Back then nobody wanted wool so we ended up composting it all.That was 15 years ago, more people are using wool now I think

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    Replies
    1. Yes, the Campaign for Wool has been going for at least 4 years I think. Prince Charles has been very proactive in promoting the fantastic properties of wool, not least it's sustainability.

      Jean x

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  7. Good luck with the spinning - my Mum's hand-spun Yorkshire wool knitted up beautifully. And...
    1) My favourite sheep are the cuddly white ones that live on Romney Marsh.
    2) My second favourite are the long-suffering, rheumaticky ones who live on the Yorkshire Moors.
    I love sheep!

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    Replies
    1. Great. It's nice to know it's not just me .

      Jean x

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  8. They are bonny sheep! I'd love to have a go at that and being up in 'sheep land' aka Cumbria I really think I should. Another thing to add to my list. Hope it goes well.

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    1. I know Mo, my craft list is getting longer too.

      jean x

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  9. they are such lovely sheep, my grand parents raised sheep and sent the wool of to be milled, then blankets would be sent back, nothing like these sheep though, you are so correct in saying they look like Teddy bears, they are beautiful, you are very talented with the wool, I will enjoy coming back to see what is created!

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    1. Hi Laurie, thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. It means I have discovered your blog too:)

      Jean x

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  10. They look so fluffy & cuddly, I like them too. I'm looking forward to your spinning results, I think I would like to do something similar in the future!

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  11. I might well organise a spinning workshop in the future I will post about it on the blog if i do.

    Jean x

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  12. Aren't they just the cuddliest of sheep and I love the colour of their wool - it will be very interesting to see how you get on with it - when we kept sheep you got almost nothing for the fleeces - spinning would have been a better option.

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  13. Beautiful creatures, looking forward to seeing how your yarns turns out!

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