Kim's Blog

“Happy”

Up until last year I had only spun and knit lace yarns from Shetland fibre.  Deciding to delve a little deeper, I purchased five pounds of roving in 5 natural colours: white, light grey, dark grey, dark brown and fawn.  I spun the whole lot up and set them aside for nature dyeing once I decide on a project.

I also wanted to see what kind of differences my own scouring and fibre preparation methods would make to my handspun.  So naturally, I purchased a “few” fleeces from a Shetland sheep breeder on Vancouver Island.  The first natural white fleece I scoured was from a sheep called “Happy” and it sure lives up to its name.  The lustre in this fleece is incredible….it simply glistens….the first skein taken off the niddy noddy made my heart leap.  So, if you have the time and the inclination, starting with fleece is definitely worth your while.  Something to keep in mind too is Shetland fleeces are on the smaller side.  So scouring is not so large or as intimidating a task as it may seem.  I scoured Happy’s fleece in small batches over just a few days.  After the fleece was dry, I simply picked and drum carded the fibre as more was needed for spinning.

I am anxious to see how Shetland yarn dyes up too.  I recall some time ago reading that the dye process makes Shetland “hard”.  I have an inkling, but am not sure what exactly the author meant and am interested to see how my own dyeing fairs….water hardness and pH can be so different between one locale and another…..causing dyers to have very different experiences….even when using the same dyes and fibres.  As soon as my lilac tree is ready this spring….I will be dyeing sample skeins of “Happy” a very cheery yellow colour.

In the meantime, the natural coloured Shetland skeins beckoned me.  They are so beautiful in and of themselves.  Not able to resist, I started a small Allover project, the “Northman Mittens” pattern by David Schultz.  This pattern is a great first project as I teach myself knitting techniques for Allover pattern work.  I must warn you though working with Shetland has proved addictive……………..I have started on the second mitten of the pair and am already dreaming of which natural colours to use for the next pair as I wait for spring and my lilac tree to leaf.

One mitten down, one to go.....

One mitten down, one to go…..and then I think, another pair or two????

Comments

  1. Absolutely lovely, Kim! Love to see great local B.C. fleece being used by hand spinners. Can you share the farm/owner’s name?

    • Hello Judith, Sure……I purchased the fleece from Kathy Millar of Home Farm. Kathy has a small flock and was great to deal with. I was given a bit of discount for those fleeces that were a bit tippy. A bit more work to be sure, but I am not faint of heart when it comes to these things and it was not hard to deal with. I really appreciated how clean her fleeces were…..minimal vegetation and very few second cuts. And areas that appeared to be a bit felted in the grease, pulled apart readily after scouring. I will dig up a photo of Happy’s fleece before scouring and post it for you. Cheers, Kim

  2. What a lovely project to take on. Starting from fleece is on my to-do list, but for now I will probably stick with top. I have a kind of half idea to spin some Shetland and then dye the yarn for a Fair Isle cardigan, though am unsure whether to begin with spinning the top and then dyeing it, or alternatively dyeing the top and then perhaps carding colours to make a mixed coloured roving before spinning. Mind you I have a bit of time to decide what to do as I am still trying to get the design right for my BFL cardigan! 🙂

    • Hmmmm……Re….spinning and then dyeing vs dyeing top and then blending…..different effects….hard decisions. When you are ready to share….I look forward to seeing your current BFL cardigan project. Cheers, Kim

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