Today we traveled one hour northwest of York to a small country town called Masham for their annual sheep festival. It was only day three of the trip but it has already surpassed all my expectations! I was very excited to see my first UK Lincolns, so upon arriving I headed right to the sheep show. This was a small show so there were only three breeders, but all the sheep were gorgeous. Within ten minutes of arriving, Keith Harding of Swepstone Lincoln Flock roped me into giving him a hand showing. I say "roped in", but really I volunteered! There was no way I was going to turn down an opportunity to show a UK Lincoln! I helped him get the sheep ready, and into the showring we went- white coats and all. This show is very relaxed, without an actual show ring, and showing in general is very relaxed here. No touching the feet to set them up, no walking circles around the ring, and only one person showing each sheep. I have to say, it was definitely my type of showing! Keith had two gimmer lambs (ewe lambs) and two ram lambs, but no shearlings (one year old sheep). The judge was Rod Dart from Illinois who is on the trip, and he of course had to give me a hard time in the ring; "When was your lamb born?", "Why does your sheep look dirty?". I had a hard time figuring out how they judge the different pairs. They do top gimmer and top male, followed by top overall sheep where they judge the gimmers against the males. There is also pen of three with one male and two gimmers, but they can be different ages. Keith ended up with top male! This was so much fun and my life is officially complete now! Dad was showing my own sheep at the Big E in Massachusetts today, so I didn't completely slack off :)
My first full day in York was spent exploring the gorgeous city. After the deepest sleep I've had in a long time, I was refreshed and ready for a day of walking.
I had my first introduction to an English breakfast; toast and eggs with beans, mushrooms, tomato and "black pudding". Also known as blood pudding, it is made with sheep blood and pork fat. I did try one bite, but I don't think I will be trying it again... I am loving all the tea though!
After breakfast, a few of our group met a tour guide at the York Minster Cathedral for a walking tour of the city. The first thing our tour guide said to remember was "The history of York is the history of England". We started at the Minster and spent a good part of the morning exploring it's beauty! The building of the Minster began in 1225 and was finished by 1425. It has over 128 stained glass windows; over 1/2 of the stained glass windows in the whole country of England! It is also the largest Gothic cathedral north of the Alps.
ell I have made it to York, England! The trip was a breeze, though exhausting. Easy transfers from BUF --> PHL --> Manchester. Overnight plane rides are no fun and managed to leave you completely exhausted despite just sitting for hours on end!
I am here as part of a trip organized by the National Lincoln Sheep Breeder's Association to visit and tour Lincoln flocks in the UK and learn about their sheep and wool production. In total there are 18 of us from New York to Washington who are a part of this trip.
Upon arrival, and making it through customs (the agent was extremely grumpy this morning!) we met at a small cafe at the train station to wait for the others to land. After meeting up with the rest of the group of Lincoln breeders in Manchester we took the train to York. I unfortunately was completely exhausted and fell asleep on the train and missed all the scenery and farmland between the two cities. It's ok- I really needed the sleep!
I just wanted to take a minute to say how thankful I am for blessed I was this past 2015 year! I had a gorgeous crop of lambs in the spring, reaped the benefits of new pasture acreage, did well at my shows, sold the most fleeces I ever have, and was featured on Woolful podcast. I couldn't be happier with the direction my farm and business are going, and look forward to an even better year in 2016. Thank you everyone for your support!
Can you believe Thanksgiving is next week? I feel each year just goes faster and faster with no time to slow down- except, of course, when you're knitting while binge-watching the newest Netflix show.
This fall I have been working on (and plan to start...) several handmade gifts for Christmas and babies entering the world this coming winter. Every year, I try to give friends and family handmade, DIY gifts, which often end up being knitted. Cowls and earwarmers, baby snugglers and blankets are all things that knit up quickly and make very practical gifts.
In recent years, I have knitted all my sisters the Bubblegum cowl from FiberFlux, as well as a braided knit headband from Owls Wake Up blog. Both are free patterns that I discovered on Pintrest.
The Bubblegum cowl uses chunky yarn on large needles to make a very soft, quick knit accessory. For people who may be new to knitting (which I was when I first made this pattern), it is a great introduction to following a pattern and working on knit/purl stitches. And for those of you experienced knitters, this is a quick project that can easily be done in an evening- even for slow knitters like me!
The braided headband was how I learned to do the cable stitch- and to be honest, it is the only cable knit stitch pattern I've done so far! I was a bit nervous to start, but because cable is all you have to worry about for this pattern, it is easy to follow and great for those wanting to learn cables. When chunky yarn is used, this is also a very quick-to-knit pattern that is soft and warm.
Both of these patterns make warm, attractive accessories to give to family and friends. Those who I've made them for wear them regularly throughout the winter months!
Interested in these patterns, but don't know what type of yarn to try? I suggest you try some of my Orchard View worsted Lincoln Longwool yarn for a warm, durable winter accessory! Available in both natural colored (gray) and white, this yarn will meet all your winter knitting and gift-giving needs.
Honestly, this summer has been a complete whirlwind. Between weddings (friends, family and my younger sister's), family outings, my real job, and the first summer in my own house, I really don't even know how I've had time to breathe! As a result, my fiber has taken a bit of a back burner. I'm hoping with our fall shearing coming up in a few weeks and cooler weather arriving that skirting, washing, selling, etc. will pick back up again.
Over the last month, we had two shows: the Big E in West Springfield, Mass. which is a regular fair and the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY. Both shows went pretty well- no 1st place ribbons, but the competition for Lincoln Longwools in the Northeast is tough with many great flocks and to place in the top half (which I did consistently) is good for me! :)
I was really looking forward to the NY Sheep & Wool Festival this year because of my growing interest in fiber arts over the last six months. Though I haven't had time to sit and work on many knitting projects, I've been listening to many podcasts including knit.fm, KnitPicks, 6Bits Storybooks, and of course Woolful, which I've written about previously. All of them are filled with inspiring stories, tips, tricks and tutorials and are worth listening to if you're at all interested in fiber arts! This year in Rhinebeck I ran across several vendors who I've listened to in these podcasts and walked away with too much new yarn, including Shelter from Brooklyn Tweed to make a hat and five skeins of O-wool (which is unbelievably gorgeous by the way!) to make a cowl. I also purchased some pretty yarn from Battenkill made with NY wool- probably for another cowl. It's great to see companies working to support US farms, mills and spinners.
The other exciting news to share is that I was interviewed for Woolful Podcast! I emailed Ashley back in the spring, letting her know how much I appreciated her work and how inspiring it has been for my fiber interest. She emailed me back over the summer and asked if I could be interviewed. Of course I was thrilled- not only because I love the podcast so much, but because I appreciate any opportunity to tell others about the Lincoln Longwool breed. The podcast aired today, and I would love to know your thoughts- I'm debating on whether I'll listen to it because I felt like such a clown gushing about how much I love my sheep, but I guess it's the truth!
You can listen to the Podcast on the Woolful website, or through your favorite podcast streaming app (itunes, stitcher, etc.)
Thanks in advance for listening and supporting Ashley's great work!
I officially completed my first knit along, Beau the Bunny, which was sponsored by Woolful (see previous post). Even though I've know how to knit for quite a few years, I'm just starting to adventure beyond the straight knit-and-purl scarves.
This project was fairly easy and I really learned a lot of new techniques and methods. Despite the fact I have been knitting for several years, I don't have a lot of experience working with patterns and have not been very good about learning new things. For the bunny, I used needles as the pattern specified, and yarn that I had scraps of. I had never used a Turkish cast on before, nor had I ever knit with more than 2 needles! After practicing the cast on several times, the body of this bunny knit up quickly in one evening. It was a very quick project.
The ears took some time to figure out and the crooked one didn't turn out as it was supposed to, but overall I am very happy with how this bunny turned out! Unfortunately, my cats are too. They keep finding it and thinking that it makes a great toy.
I plan to make several more for friends who are expecting babies this coming year. For those, I plan to use yarn from my sheep for the body and tail to give it a more personal tough.
Now to pick out my next project... If anyone has suggestions for a beginner sweater please let me know! And if you're on Ravelry, I'd love to connect!
PS. I completed this at the end of April and just getting around to posting... whoops!
Lately I have been into podcasts... really into podcasts. I've been listening to them so much that I hardly listen to music anymore. Why listen to music when you can learn and listen to inspiring stories?
Last week I discovered a new favorite podcast: Woolful podcast by Ashley Yousling. Each week she interviews \different types of people from different parts of the wool and fiber arts supply chain: from sheep farmer to shearers to mills to yarn shop owners to fiber artists.
While I have just started to expand my fiber knowledge into knitting beyond a basic knit and purl scarf, and I definitely don't spin or weave, I have learned so much about the fiber industry and the different things people are doing with it. I binge listened to the first 17 episodes in about a week (thankfully we haven't started field work yet, so I've been listening nonstop wile doing office work).
Things I have learned so far:
Extreme knitting uses giant needles to knit with an already felted fiber. Little Dandelion is one company that makes these large needles and has some some very creative things. Her work is so awesome and I can't even imagine how warm her throws are. Unfortunately there is no way I could afford that fiber! I've seen some really huge knit blankets on Pintrest and I finally figured out how they're made!
Efforts for more mills: Ashley also talked with Matt Gilbert, a shearer from California who discussed his current endeavor to start a fiber mill called Mendocino Wool and Fiber. Right now they have an Indegogo campaign to raise the capital to start the project. It was really interesting to hear how there is such a lack of the "middle man" in the fiber industry- ie there are a lot of people who produce wool, and a lot of people who want to make things with it, but a lack of someone to create high quality yarns. He hopes to process >1000lbs of yarn in a week, which is a really good sized mill. It's nice that people are recognizing the need for more mills in the U.S. Currently, the wait time for any of my roving, yarn and blankets is a minimum of 2 months but can be 6-12 months depending on where it is sent.
Knit alongs: I am embarrassed to admit that I did not know of this concept previously.. Ashley is organizing a monthly knit along with patterns from designers featured in the show. This month the pattern is for an adorable stuffed bunny. This pattern was designed by Ashley for a line she is developing with a friend, called Little Woolens. The pattern (along with great discussion about the podcast), can be found on Ravelry. So far I have not been very adventurous with my knitting, but listening to people on this podcast talk about their "fiber journeys" has really made me want to start stepping out and trying new things. I have finished the body and the ears and depending on how this trial bunny turns out, I'd like to make some for friends who are having babies this summer and use my own wool! I will (maybe) post photos of this project when I finish.
Seventeen episodes and more than 25 hrs of listening time is a lot to sum up in one blog post, so you're just going to have to listen for yourself! You'll learn about new yarns you'll want to try, patterns to download, and people in the fiber industry who are just genuinely excited about fiber. If you are a wool or fiber arts enthusiast like me, I promise you will be incredibly inspired! So, pick up your knitting needles and get listening.
It's been quite a while since I've updated you all about what's been happening at Orchard View! Starting a job, still finishing my graduate work, and purchasing a house have all left very little excess time.
March 16th-19th was Ag Literacy Week in New York. This week is sponsored by New York Agriculture in the Classroom and each year, a book is chosen to be read in elementary schools across the state. The books are chosen to be very educational; no talking animals, representative of the topic, teach a practical lesson, etc. The reading of the book is accompanied by hands-on activities for the kids.
I was very excited last year when I found that this year's book was going to be "Weaving the Rainbow" by George Ella Lyon. This book goes over the process of shearing sheep to weaving.
If you read my blog or follow my Facebook, you know how passionate I am about sheep and wool, and educating others about those two things, so you can only imagine my excitement! Now that I'm back home living in western NY, I got in contact with my local Cooperative Extension office to become a volunteer. I was even more excited when I found out that I'd have the opportunity to read at the elementary school I attended as a kid.
We planned four different stations for the kids to rotate through:
1. Reading of the book
2. Learning about fleece- hands on fleece feeling, spinning demonstration, crochet demonstration
3. Hands-on making of a felted ball
4. Meet bottle baby lambs
I got in contact with Diane who owns/operates Acorn Works Fiber Processing, a local fiber processing business, to help with the spinning demonstration, and I donated a Lincoln fleece. Another local sheep farm, Maple Lawn Farm, provided the lambs for the afternoon.
I was a part of the "learning about fleece" room. Diane brought her spinning wheel and demonstrated spinning. She conveniently also had some of my wool spun up, so I could show kids a finished product! An extension employee gave a crochet demonstration and had different types of yarn and finished products like hats and scarves to see and feel. I brought in some of my raw Lincoln Longwool wool, Diane brought some Merino and Romney wool, and we also had crossbred meat-breed wool to use for a fleece discussion, which was the part that I ran. The kids rotated through each of the three stations in our classroom and I had 10 minutes to talk about the process of shearing and steps to make wool become yarn.
I started by discussing the difference between the different types of wool, and used an analogy of different dog breeds to discuss why the wool from different sheep looked and felt different from each other. I then had them feel the four different fleeces and pick out their favorite. Hands-down my Lincoln fleece was the favorite of the day (if you need another reason to buy my fleeces, just trust the 2nd graders! haha), and they really didn't like the feel of the meat breed wool. I then had them smell the fleece, to which the response was a lot of "ewwww"s and scrunched noses (again, they all agreed mine smelled the best). We talked about the process of washing and then showed a set of carders to talk about how the wool is "combed". Next, the kids got to feel the roving and we discussed the process of dying. Finally, we talked about how the roving becomes yarn by way of Diane's spinning demonstration.
This event was a lot of fun! The kids asked wonderful questions like how the shears work to cut the wool off and whether it hurts the sheep, and why the wool felt "sticky", which led to great discussions about lanolin. They definitely learned a lot throughout the afternoon, and it really demonstrated the importance of agricultural education in today's school system, where most kids have no idea what happen on farms.
A big thanks to New York Ag in the Classroom for planning, Battenkill Fiber Mill for donating time & resources to make the roving, and Genesee County Cooperative Extension for coordinating the event locally. Events like these happen throughout the state for Ag Literacy Week and volunteers spend a lot of time getting the books and corresponding materials (like the wool & roving samples) sent around the state, so thank you to everyone!
Back in May, I had someone from the Clotho's Handspinners group in Richmond, Virginia ask for a fleece to use for a Rare Breeds Workshop. I was thrilled that they asked me, as I love to share the Lincoln Breed with others! It's also encouraging that many groups are investigating different breeds of sheep (see the previous blog post about the Genesee Valley Spinner's Guild sheep study back in the spring!).
I met with members of the group at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival back in May (which yes, I still have to post pictures of...) and they shared with me photos of the Rare Breeds Workshop that was held this past weekend. I absolutely love seeing what is being done with my wool, so if you have previously purchased some of my wool, please share with me what you've done!
Here are some of the awesome photos from their workshop. To see the full album visit:
Thank you Becky for contacting me, and also Judy for the photos.
Lincoln Longwool handspun samples
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.
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