Welcome to my woolly little blog!!

Welcome to my woolly little blog!!
You are welcome to browse, comment, ask questions,
seek advice on a knitting issue and find out more about Shetland and it's world renowned wool.
Plus, some snippets and snaps from my everyday life.
So pull up a chair and sit awhile, away from the rush of the world.
Please do not use any images from my blog as most of them, unless otherwise stated, are my own work.
You are more than welcome to read, comment and follow!

Monday, 28 May 2012

One Sheep and a Few Foals

Hello again,
how is life in your neck of the woods? I'm happy to report that our weather has turned a little cooler! Now I can go out! I am definitely not a hot weather fan.
So today hubby and I went into town. Our usual fortnightly trip to go to the supermarket, library, chip shop (naughty but nice) and a little look in the charity shops. Today I was very excited to find this blue and yellow sunflower tablecloth to match my blue and yellow kitchen. I was even more delighted that it was circular because they seem more hard to come by. It cost only £2.00. Here it is.........

And a close up........

I daresay it won't be long 'til little cat paw prints will be all over it but never mind, I wouldn't want to be without my little kitties and the tablecloth can wash!
If you remember in my last post I told you my sister had given me a £15 gift voucher for a very nice shop in town. Just look what this sheep lover found in the shop......

I've called her "Mayah", as all my sheep's names end in "ah" and she measures 14 x 17 inches. Isn't she just fab?

And now for a cuteness overload! On the way back from town today just see what I spotted. We were able to stop the car in a safe place right where the foals were and I got these lovely shots of them.....

They are so soft and fluffy!
After getting home and having my usual cup of tea and 2 digestive biscuits I went up to feed the sheep and see if I could get any fleece while I was there. I knew my Soay ewe Shulah could probably be 'rooed', (have her fleece plucked off), as I'd rooed Yaisah last week. Soays shed their own fleece so if you want to keep it to spin and knit with you have to be quick once it starts to come off. So I got her fleece off and then decided Leelah's would easily come off too. Leelah is probably my oldest girl. She's a Shetland ewe and has a great personality. She really makes me laugh. When I was trying to get her to lie down so I could roo her she was so determined not to let me I could hardly do it for laughing! It reminded me of when the children were little and didn't want to go in their pushchair. They would stiffen their bodies up and it was really difficult sometimes to get their little legs to bend!
Here's one of my favourite photos of Leelah......

Well, I'm going to leave you with that for today, but I'll be updating soon as I have some fleece to wash and I'll be blogging about that. I'm also doing quite well with the "Arches and Columns" scarf I've previously blogged about so I should have something to show you again in the next two or three days.
Thank you for popping by. Please feel free to follow or leave comments. Tell me where you're from and what you're interested in. If you have a blog I'll make sure to visit you too.
Until next time, keep calm and create!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Spinning Like a Top!

Hi again.
If you are a first time visitor, welcome to my woolly blog! If you have been here before or have become a follower, welcome back! As I always say to people, you're always welcome here!
Here's my latest news.
Yesterday I visited my sister Anne. She lives about 18 miles from me. The first thing we do is sit down with a cup of tea and some McVities Digestive biscuits and proceed to put the world to rights. Actually what we do is share our grumps and gripes, then when that's over we just have a great time together.
As Monday was my birthday, Anne had bought me a present or three. See this.....

2 necklaces and a £15 gift voucher

She told me a little story about the gift voucher.
Initially she had gone to Harbro to get me a gift voucher. Harbro is a store which stocks animal feeds, medicines, equipment etc and also crofting type clothing. It's where I buy my sheep fodder and drench meds etc.
So she'd gone up to the counter and asked the girl there, "Do you have any gift vouchers?"
"Yes, sure", the girl replied. "How many would you like?"
"Oh just the one will be fine", my sister replied.
The girl disappeared into the back office for a few moments, then returned to the counter and said, "No sorry, we haven't got any just now. They should be in at the beginning of the week".
My sister could hardly stop a smile from spreading across her face.It seemed the situation had gone from "How many would you like" to "Sorry we don't have any" in a matter of seconds. But she was a tad irked as well because she knew how much I would have loved "a gift voucher for my sheep"!!
And speaking of sheep, here's a photo......


From Anne's house I visited a new friend who kindly said she would show me how to use a drop spindle as I don't have room in my little house for a full size spinning wheel. Well, I could probably squeeze one in somewhere but that might mean getting rid of some piles of books or quilting and photography magazines..........hmmmmm...nope, the magazines have to stay!
My friend's name is Laura and she is great company. Funny, talented, very hospitable and generous. She has a little dog who was very unhappy about having to stay in his crate while I was in but he soon settled down. Laura explained that he is very full of beans and would be at the top of my head before I knew what was happening to me! And she also has 2 budgies and 5 adorable Indian Finches. Oh how I would love a couple of those but I must be content with my fleecy friends and leave the feathers to other people. We just don't have the space.
So I came home last night with a borrowed drop spindle and some Cotswold top to get me started on learning to spin with this unique little device. Here's a couple of photos I took this morning. I love to see the wood and fleece together. There's something very 'earthy and organic' about it..........

And a close up photo of the top of the spindle nestled in the Cotswold fleece.......

Now if you remember in a previous post I mentioned I had sent for two books. One to help me prepare my own sheep's fleece for spinning and one about drop spindles and spinning. So imagine my delight when, after receiving the spindle and fleece last night, I get up to this in the morning.......

So now I have no excuse. I must set aside some time each day to practice this age old art. I did have a go last night at Laura's place. That was a laugh! I found out first hand why it's called a drop spindle! Seriously, I don't actually know why it's called a drop spindle, but mine certainly dropped to the floor on numerous occasions! Am I going to master this? You bet I am, even if I end up spinning like a top!
'Til next time, keep creating and help someone else along the way.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

View South from Sheep Hill Park

Hi again, just me checking in with a quick photo or or two for you today. It's VERY hot and sunny for Shetland today and certainly too hot for me, but it LOOKS amazing!! Shetland in nice weather is unbeatable.
Hubby and I went up to the sheep today. While he finished off the gate to the outer pen I went calling on the sheep to come and get their extra feed. They don't really need it every day, but I'm trying to get them to keep coming down the hill towards me as it's a very steep hill and I have no sheepdog!
I'm delighted to report my one and only Cheviot ewe responded to the pedicure and antiseptic treatment I administered the other week and she's now fleet of foot. Probably much more so than I am!!! But the exercise is good for me. I recently sold my Reebok stepper because I figured I was getting better exercise chasing sheep all over the place. It's a whole lot more fun than stepping on and off a piece of plastic!
So first of all, here's the view south from the hill park......

And here's my new (primitive) gate! It cost a whole £4.00 to make!

I also managed to get a photo of my two "Golden Girls" together today. They are in the autumn of their years and not looking their best but they are just adorable! I am planning to get them in the pen this week and perhaps just 'roo' them (pluck the fleece off) instead of clipping them as it's very straggly anyway and I don't want to lose the fleece among the heather. Here they are......

Golden Girls in Glad Rags!

And just to end with, I took a photo of hubby's jumper hanging over the pen and gave it a little post-click treatment and it looked quite good......

I'm easily amused!

Until next time, take care.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Magda on Retreat

Weather wise today is the best day this year up here in Shetland. The sun is shining, we have 'wall to wall' blue sky and there is very little wind. What a change from the last five months when we have experienced relentless rain. The garden is way behind what it was this time last year and hubby says a lot of the plants have been lost. he's the gardener by the way. The only time I go into the garden is either to admire his handiwork or take photos he has asked me to take of the various stages of growth and lovely blooms he manages to grow. If it were up to me we would be neck high in weeds!!
Here's a little someone who enjoys taking her place in the garden.........

That's our younger cat Magda sitting on top of her purpose-built retreat in the garden. She took ownership of it as soon as my hubby finished making it. Our other cat Dougal doesn't get near it. But he's quite happy lying under some foliage.

His favourite place is actually indoors on top of a chest of drawers that has a few blankets on top. I'll go and have a look to see if he's there. See if I can sneak a photo or two.

Yip, I thought so!

Unfortunately I disturbed his slumber, but he very forgivingly posed for me and gave me this handsome shot.....

But while we're on the subject, here is one of my favourite shots of Dougal.....

Dougal disgruntled

Well, I'd better go and make some dinner or my hubby might become disgruntled too!
I hope you're day has been as sunny as mine here in Shetland. It makes such a difference to everything and everybody. People even SMILE when the sun shines!
Until next time, keep smiling and stay creative. My next post should show my finished shawl.

Monday, 21 May 2012

First Soay Fleece

What a birthday present! My first little bundle of Soay sheep fleece taken from my lovely ewe Yaisah today. Just look at this.....

There would have been more but, as Soays shed their own fleece, half of it was gone before I got to her to get the rest off. I may get nearer the full fleece from Shulah as she hasn't started shedding too much yet. Here are a couple more pics, a little closer up this time. Their fleece is very oily. Good for the hands!!

I've never worked with raw fleece before and as I want to learn how to spin I need to learn how to go through the whole process so I've oredered this book through Amazon......

And then of course because I want to learn to spin using a drop spindle I just HAD to order this book as well.......

I've found someone who is willing to teach me how to use the spindle and I'm so thankful and very excited about it. I would love to knit a shawl from my very own fleece. That is my goal.
And if all this isn't enough excitement for me, I'm getting 2 more Soays next week. This is my birthday present from my hubby. They are 'wethers' (castrated rams) and were born last year around the same time as the 2 ewes I have so it will make a nice little group. I plan to have perhaps half a dozen Soays and that will probably be my limit so I can add a few coloured Shetlands to my small flock too. About a dozen sheep altogether will be my flock size.
My hubby made a lovely gate for the larger sheep pen today. I was so grateful as it will help enormously when it comes to shearing time. We just need a couple more bits of wood to make it completely safe and sound. My hubby is so good to me and if I need something done or made he always does it and doesn't leave me hanging on or having to nag!! I wouldn't nag anyway, it's just not me.
So, I'll leave you today with a photo taken from the batch I took on Saturday at the Shetland Alpaca and Soay farm. Thanks for calling by my blog. As always feel free to comment, join, follow, ask questions......whatever you want. Here's a pic for you................

Three light Soays

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Baby Soays......Adorable!

Just look what I got to photograph yesterday! I had made plans with the couple who own the Shetland Alpaca Farm to come up yesterday and take photos of their baby Soay sheep. I couldn't wait. I slept very badly the night before and got up at 6.00am because of my utter excitement! I know, I'm just a hopeless case.
Here is one photo I just love......

Just chillin'

As you can see, Soay babies are not really like the lambs of other breeds of sheep that we are more familiar with. They are much more like young deer and I noticed the 'bleating' sound they make is also unlike a lamb's bleat. Their coats are quite tight and very wavy, almost curly in places.
Here's a few more pics for you.....

Look at that face!

One of the ram lambs this year has a much lighter coat than they expected, but I think they are keen to keep this little ram to use as a breeder in the future. Soays can be light or dark. They can also have white on their faces. Some people prefer this. It's a matter of personal taste really. As long as the lamb's generational history can be traced back and there is only Soay blood in them then it's perfectly ok to have a change in colour. Sometimes a breeding ram may "throw" a lighter colour, even though he is dark. This is obviously a throw back from a previous generation.

Light Soay

Dark Soay

Soay sheep shed their own fleeces, although you can pull it off yourself if you see that is is becoming very loose and patchy. I notice one of mine is looking particularly straggly so I may try to get as much of the wool as I can so I can try to spin it. Phill from the farm showed me yesterday how to take off the loose fleece. You just get hold of a piece and 'roll' it upwards away from the skin. This doesn't hurt or harm the Soay sheep at all. The new fleece grows back quite quickly too. You can see in this next photo how the adult light coloured Soay is beginning to shed her fleece. Those loose clumps would easily come off with a gentle pull upwards.

I'm just going to finish off this post with a photo of one of their rams called Gambit. He is quite a character. When I arrived yesterday to take photos he was lying back in the sunshine watching all the mothers do the hard work............enough said!!! Here he is in all his glory..........

What a dude!

Back soon with more news and photos. Take care.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Shetland Alpacas

Today I'm going to step aside from Shetland wool and knitting because I want to introduce you to a special family. They are alpacas from the Shetland Alpaca Farm in North Roe up here in the Shetland Isles. The farm is owned by a lovely couple who also keep Soay sheep. This is where my own Soays have come from. They are very well bred and cared for and all being well I am going up there tomorrow to take some photos of their Soay lambs, born very recently. Soay lambs are uber-cute!!
First let me show you some photos of their alpacas, some of which I added captions to. Here they are......

And for all women who have ever asked this question, here are some Soays......

Alpacas look very cuddly but are not too happy to have your arms flung round them. They are a little aloof, but are very pleased to step a little closer if you have something tasty in your pocket that they can have. Their fleeces are dense and soft and make excellent knitting wool. Colin and his wife Phill have recently had some of the fleece made into wool and now sell it from their website. If you would like to look at their site or buy the wool please "click on the baby alpaca" at the right hand side of my blog. There you can also see more photos, some with names attached. I've forgotten the names of the ones I put on here just now, although I know the "Queen of the Castle" is Tosca. She has quite a personality going on there. Well, they all do to be fair. They are really lovely animals. They haven't bred them this year but I think they hope to next year. Oh my! Loads of cute little alpacas. Baby alpacas are called "cria"

So I'll leave you to browse those photos again and maybe have a look at the Shetland Alpaca website. I think you'll find it interesting. I know the wool is gorgeous.
So, call back here soon. Comment, join, follow, whatever takes your fancy. You're always welcome at this blog!
Until next time, be creative and learn a new skill. Now, there's a challenge for you. And don't forget to tell me all about it!!