Thursday, December 7, 2006

Lace Shawl Project and Icelandic fleeces

Yes, I know---pathetic picture. I held it up, I laid it down, I tried to stretch it with one hand and snap the picture with the other, I even stretched it and held it up in front of the window---but alas all you see is a fuzzy gray thing. Believe it or not, you can actually see the pattern very nicely when you have it in front of you. My camera just didn't want to help me with viewing pleasure. This lace shawl pattern is from Interweave Knits Summer 2006 magazine. It is the Icarus shawl on page 74. My yarn is a bit heavier than the alpaca they use for the magazine shawl but none the less is still knitting up into a nice piece. I believe it is going to have a very very nice drape. Originally I thought I was starting at the bottom of the piece and so I kept getting a bit more confused with each new row. It just didn't look like the picture--finally I re read the side notes again and realized---I started at the top. After that it made perfect sense and I could "see" it. It was an Ah Ha! moment. This is my first time using a lace chart so you can understand how I might not have "gotten" it yet.
The yarn I am using for the shawl is my Icelandic sheep Greta's lamb fleece made into two ply lace weight that I have had laying around for a while. It's a bit heavier of a lace weight than I originally wanted but what can you do after it is spun? Send it back and tell them to re spin it? I didn't have very much of it so I wanted to find something that would be just about the correct amount to finish with. I have another lamb fleece in a dark brown spun into lace weight also. I now know I will do another shawl with it since I already like how this one is coming along. Unfortunately we lost that brown sheep last year so we can't get her extra extra dark brown again. Very unusual brown she was. So sad--but that is life on a farm.
Greta is one of my darkest black sheep--with a few stray gray strands in her fleece. Washed and spun up though-- she makes a very nice charcoal gray. Very soft too. Her lamb has an even blacker softer fleece than Greta --but I sold it to someone else. There comes a point where you have to get rid of some of it since Icelandics are sheared twice a year. You can quickly end up with way way to much fleece and I just don't knit fast enough to keep up with all of it.
This year I finally bought some white Icelandic sheep to have on the farm (see some of the colors in Nov 27th post). Two of them are actually spotted, not white, but have so much "spot" that they look basically white. For a long time I wasn't going to have white sheep---then I saw some hand died angora from a local person and decided "ah ha! that's what I need---white fleeces to dye!" The reason we held out so long on getting white sheep is this: white is the dominate "color" and will cover up the natural browns and blacks and grays that the sheep can be (as you breed them). White is actually not a color so much as a pattern. Icelandics have 3 loci that effect what they look like. First they choose a color: black or brown. Then they choose a pattern: gray, mouflon, badger face, white or a combo of these. The third effects whether they will be spotted or not. Anyways think of white like frosting on a cake. You can have a chocolate cake (or black or brown sheep) and you can cover it with white frosting and then you won't know what flavor it is anymore. White is the frosting for sheep---it covers everything else up so you can't see it--though it is still hiding in there. Natural color fleece was the reason we chose to raise Icelandics. If I had more room I would add a few more different types of sheep (for different wool types) and a few angora goats too---but we don't :-( I would still mainly have Icelandics though just because I like their size, colors, wool style and personalities.

Two weeks ago I finally got the rest of my fleeces from this year boxed up and sent off to a spinning mill in Maine called Hope Spinnery. I like them because they are trying to be environmentally friendly with their mill and hopefully they will do a good job with my fleeces so I can then highly recommend them to others. (They are not the mill that did Greta's fleece for me.) When they get finished with all of it and send it back to me I will receive---about 9 pounds of white in a 70% Icelandic 30% Angora mix spun into a two ply bulky of about 100 yards to the pound (it will be CHUNKY) Some of it I might dye of course.
Also a bit over 4 pounds of brown Icelandic lamb spun two ply into a 160 yards to the pound--already have a sweater planned for some of this.
Two left over winter fleeces made into felting batts and two very special fleeces that hopefully will come back exactly as I requested : washed and very very very lightly carded and left as a cloud to be spun by me. I have two ewes (sisters) that have very similar colors---but one has more gray. Her fleece was equal parts of black, brown, white and medium gray. It was GORGEOUS. The picture I posted on my web page when I had it for sale just didn't show it to it's best. There was no way---you had to see it in person to appreciate the colors. It made me just want to look at it---like you would a good painting. Hopefully if it comes back like I see it in my head then I will be able to spin it into a nice variegated yarn---for what project I have no clue. If it comes back carded too much--well, it will make a great medium gray yarn.
And if you are wondering why I don't just wash and prep it for spinning myself---well, its just easier to have someone else do it. It's just not my favorite part really.

Update 12/8/2006-- Oops! did I say 100 yards per pound? I meant per 100 grams! LOL Most would have been really really chunky wouldn't it have?

1 comment:

Phelan said...

I so look forward to getting my sheep.