For years I have been dreaming of creating a flock yarn out of my wool. This past winter I finally decided to make the investment and do it! I had a beautiful crop of lamb fleeces last fall and felt they would make the perfect first batch of farm yarn.
I really value local systems and having my yarn be a completely "New York" product was important to me, so I enlisted the help of Battenkill Fiber Mill to process my fiber. The owner, MJ, and I have been friends for several years, interacting through both the fiber and general NY agricultural circles. Since I know relatively little about the spinning process and what yarn would best show the characteristics of my wool, I trusted her to do what she thought would be best!
What I received was an absolutely gorgeous 2-ply DK weight yarn with amazing luster and softness unlike traditional Lincoln Longwool yarns, thanks to using lamb's wool!. She separated out the natural colored fleeces to develop two different gray colorways and I could not be more impressed!
The yarn came back from the mill in 4 oz skeins. Each skein is around 225 yards. I have spent the spring and summer washing the skeins and prepping them for sale. I'm still working on the ideal label, but am happy with my first attempt. It is so fun to look at the finished skeins and think " that's my wool!". I'm currently working on getting an online store finally set up.
I decided to name this yarn "Empire", to encompass the fact that it is a New York product and also go with my farm name, Orchard View. The Empire apple was developed at Cornell University in the 1940's and this sweet, crisp apple is one of my favorites. Many of you know Cornell is my alma mater, so the name Empire is relevant to me on several levels. As I continue to develop yarn lines, I hope to keep with the apple variety theme.
Need suggestions on what to make with this yarn? Once the weather cools and I have a little more time, I'm planning on making this hat (by recommendation of MJ, who spun the yarn), a cowl like this one or this one, and a shawl similar to this one or this one. Maybe I'll try my hand at my first sweater this winter; I've been eyeing this one for years and the charcoal gray might just be perfect!
Stay tuned as I play with the yarn and knit up some samples, but don't hold your breath because it won't be until the weather gets cooler this fall. I'd love to know if you have any pattern ideas that might work with this drapy, lustrous yarn. Or better yet- if you have completed projects, I'd love to see them!
Even though winter seems so far away right now, it's time to start prepping for those chillier days! As my flock has grown, our need for hay has also grown. Thankfully, we have a great neighbor just a mile down the road that is able to bale all the hay we need for the year. It is just a basic grass hay with a little bit of clover and it provides adequate nutrition for the sheep. He delivers the wagons right to the farm and with some help from friends, we get the bales unloaded and into the mow. With two people unloading bales onto the elevator and two people stacking up in the mow, the process goes pretty quickly. Despite all the rain this spring, July has brought beautiful baling weather! We got 10 wagons unloaded in 4 evenings over the past couple weeks. Thankfully, it wasn't too hot until the last night!
This year, we put almost 1,000 bales up in the mow. We can now sit back and enjoy the rest of the summer knowing that the sheep will be well fed this winter.
Emmaline Long, main owner of Orchard View Farm, has a passion for Lincoln sheep and loves educating others about her breed and farm, She currently serves as the Vice President of the National Lincoln Breeders Association.