Monday, April 14, 2008

Spring and Baby Dolls

Not baby doll toys, but Baby Doll Southdown fleece!

This past Saturday was our fiber group meeting. We just had a free-for-all day, bringing our latest projects and having fun. One of members, friend Maple, is now raising Baby Doll Southdown sheep (along with the lovely alpacas) They just had their first shearing at their farm, and Maple brought along a fleece from Maddie to show us. She had already washed the fleece and brought some hand cards, too, so we could play.

What a delightful fleece! I have spun Baby Doll Southdown fleece before....seems like people are always sending me some to try. I will admit to being less than impressed in the past. I have to wonder if some of it is in the processing, because I know it can be difficult to work with down fleeces. Having the chance to card and then spin a bit first hand, I got a lovely little springy yarn...just loaded with character! This fleece was very, very dark as you can see how black it looks next to the charcoal grey that was on my bobbin (it is there in the middle of the bobbin):


This would make such a comfy pair of socks! Maple is going to be experimenting with some blends of the Southdown and her alpaca...can you imagine?!? Won't that be lovely? If you would like to try some really, really nice Southdown be sure to visit North Star Alpacas. If, like me, you have tried Southdown before and been disappointed, give Maple's fleece a try ~ you might become a convert! I believe they might already be sold out this year, but you could get on the waiting list for next year (grin)

Now, I also mentioned spring in the title of this post. Although the air temperature doesn't say so, there is no denying the change of color to the pastures. Just look!


Can you see it? Yes, there is some greening going on there and it won't belong until ewes and lambs are out on new grass! Yippee!!

A Silver Thread

Well, a silver fleece...


This is Violet's offering for 2008. Any of you who read my blog, visit my website or buy fleece from me know of Violet. One of the first two ewes I bought (Charlotte is the other) she is a main foundation of my flock - she and her offspring. Violet's fleece does not become available to the public often (grin) Violet lambed this weekend, a single white ram lamb. She has had two white offspring ever, and both times have been ram lambs ;( I reminded her that I had requested a white ewe lamb this year, but she just looked at me and went back to caring for her new boy! He is a big lamb and will deserve to lead a flock of his own somewhere. Violet's fleece is headed to Missouri this year.

This fleece belongs to Mary:


Mary is a teenager now, and that is pretty old for sheep. Most years she gives us a fairly small fleece, but this year she out did herself! She also gave me twin lambs - a ram and a ewe, though for the past few years she had produced very large singles. She is a bossy old ewe who is extra protective of her lambs. She loves sheep cookies, but hates to be touched ;)

Violet and Mary are both from the Verlee line of Corriedale sheep in my flock. The Verlee family carefully raised some of the finest fleeced Corriedales I have ever seen. When they dispersed their flock, my sheep mentors (Marlin and Rita Walters) bought some lambs from them. Rita has often said that if she had known more at the time, she would have bought ever sheep she could! In my flock I have concentrated and built around that family of sheep. My old ewes (Mary, Eve, Hannah and Vestal) were the first generation. Next came Violet (through Eve); Ava (through Noah); Amanda and Abby (through Hannah); Valerie (through Mary) and Noah (through Vestal) From Violet came Joseph, Bree and Collette. Because I used Joseph as my main ram for the first few years, I have several of his daughters in my flock to continue the "legacy" We have also kept Coryn and Dawn (from Eve) and Carley (from Vestal) Here is a fleece from that younger generation, Coryn:


Coryn is a daughter of Eve and Joseph, so a deep concentration of Verlee bloodlines. Some of the ewes silver with age, but not this line of Verlees. They are silver at a very young age. An exceptional example of that is in this lamb, Ella:


Ella is a great-granddaughter of Violet (funny to think that a sheep can be a great grandma at only 7 years old!) Her mother is Cherie. Cherie is a daughter of Bree, who is a daughter of Violet ;) I can't wait to shear the lamb fleece from this little ewe, who is staying in the flock along with her twin sister!

Anyway, Coryn's fleece is already in the hands of her new owner in Maryland. She also had her first lambs this year, twins, a white ram lamb and a ewe lamb who is her carbon copy. Coryn actually belongs to Alex. He chose well for his starter flock.

Now I have probably rambled on more about sheep bloodlines than you care to know - LOL! But if you ever visit my farm, you might have a better idea of the family values I was after in my flock ;)

What color should we look at next time? How about the brown tones?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Delicious Fibers

I'm not sure what all contributed to it, but this years fleeces are some of the best I have ever raised...and I don't just mean the lamb fleeces, but my adults as well. It is all dense and plush and soft, and also plenty of length.

Two of my favorites this year, Dahlia (now nicknamed Della) and Desiree (Desi). I have been skirting these fleeces and just can't keep my hands off them!


This is Della's fleece. I kept thinking of cherry cola while I was handling it for the rich colors running through it. Here is a closer sample of a few locks:


How about that length? You might notice a band of color running through these locks,and my heart sank when I saw would usually signal a weak spot or break in the fleece. But not in this case, it is strong to the tip! Woo-hoo!!! I have a sample washed up, now just need to spin it. Della is a daughter of Abby, and so a granddaughter of old Hannah Verlee.

Here is Desi's fiber:


Desi is Ainsley's daughter. I could only think of black raspberries while I was handling this fleece....raspberries sparkling with morning dew ;)

These fleeces both are destined for new homes, but you can believe I saved back a few handfuls for myself to enjoy!

For tomorrow, how about some photos of silver and grey fleeces?