Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Long and winding roads

It's the first full day of fall, and the weather is being very obedient to the calendar. Yesterday it was cool and cloudy, with a few evening sprinkles. Last night's temperature was perfect for sleeping. It was even more "autumnish" this morning, when I snapped this photo of our hill through my car window on my way to work (Rick's secretary is on vacation). Pretty soon the brown on the ground will be replaced by vibrant green; I can hardly wait. Time to break out the hand knits!

Recently my sister sent me photos of her hat-lovin' cutie-pie; he'd chosen to wear the cap I made for him even though it is much too small now. So guess what my nephew is getting for Christmas? Yep, a new cap (and matching mittens) in his favorite color:

Before I cast on I made myself finish my previous WIP, though:
Yep, the linen stitch set in handspun Targhee is finally done and blocking. Good thing, too, since I plan to deliver it on Sunday when I go to the Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival.

Do you remember me saying how much I enjoyed spinning that Targhee? Well, someone(s) did, because yesterday I received a very fat and squishy package:
It was from a woman who teaches spinning to high schoolers, and has solicited fleeces for them to work with. The last two years I've sent her most of the neck wool I skirt off because of VM (vegetable matter), glad to have someone able to utilize the finest part of my fleeces. I didn't realize she and her students follow my blog. They specifically sent me Targhee roving as a thank-you after reading that I enjoyed it. Isn't that amazingly nice? Even nicer was the note tucked in with the roving:

"The kids and I have had so much fun with your generous donation of neck wool that we wanted to find a way to thank you. Not only for the wool, but for the knowledge we have gained from following your blog as well; we recently did a comparison of dual coat Shetland and single coat Shetland and found your posted breed specification instrumental.

"As blog followers we also read that you enjoyed spinning Targhee, and hoped to find more in the future. We have been lucky enough to have worked with an entire Targhee fleece. We were also blessed with the opportunity to visit a local mini spinning mill here in Utah where, after we hand washed and sorted the fleece, had our Targhee carded into roving while we watched! The Targhee fleece came from a local rancher in southern Utah who, it is rumored, owns sheep descended from the original flock developed at the Targhee National Forest, also here in Utah. We debated dyeing the roving before sending it on to you, but decided that color is just too personal a thing without asking, so we expect you will take that upon yourself.

"So we send this roving with our gratitude for your willingness to help a bunch of kids advance in the spinning arts. Your neck wool was our last project for the season and what a wonderful fiber it was to work with! Thank you so very much!"

Well, that just about made my year. I'm so thankful Mary teaches spinning arts to high schoolers, so thankful they are able to glean some knowledge of historical, 1927 breed standard Shetlands from my blog, and so thankful for their thoughtful gift – its local and personal history making it even more meaningful.

As if that was not enough, yesterday I also received positive feedback from the woman who purchased Blake's fleece. I'm going to share what she wrote because it is educational as well as complimentary:

"I'm letting you know that the fleece arrived yesterday. I haven't unfurled the whole thing yet, but I did pull a few locks for hand washing and sampling.

"It's a very nice fleece. Good length, color, and crimp. I've had musket fleece before that had more grey fibers mixed in with the white. I prefer the brown, as I see in this fleece, because it makes a nice warm oatmeal color when spun up. He smells rammy, but not as strongly as some other ram fleeces I've had. I usually do a cold soak before washing and that helps.

"You must be breeding for fineness. He has both a soft handle and I'd guess a micron count in the low 20s. Locks are sound.

"I see what you mean about the rise. There are tufts of short wool around the base of some of the locks I pulled. Not a problem for me in hand processing, as I generally just flick both ends of the lock to open the tips and organize the butt end a bit better.

"Thanks for selling me this fleece. It will keep me entertained for awhile."

YES! I am breeding for fineness and soft handle, along with good length and crimp! It feels – as it should – finer than the micron count would indicate because of its other characteristics. This is breed-standard Shetland fleece from a breed-standard Shetland ram, whose four-year-old, last-rib, mid-side sample from this spring measured 27.6ยต – not the low 20s as she guessed. Preserving this traditional Shetland sheep and its world-famous fleece amidst the cross-breeding happening on the islands is why the 1927 standard was written, and preserving it still from the veering away from breed type often seen in the U.S. is why the Fine Fleece Shetland Sheep Association was formed. I'm proud to be a member.
Feeling chuffed, as those in Shetland would say, at . . .


thecrazysheeplady said...

How cool! Both stories :-).

Kelly said...

I think this is wonderful.....great work Michelle. And funny thing is, I know what chuffed means!! lol

Florida Farm Girl said...

Well, that is just wonderful all around!! I know diddly-squat about fleece and such, but I find it very interesting to read about it.

Laura said...

Fun! Great feedback from both of your "customers." It's nice when you feel appreciated for what you do!!

Mary Ann said...

Two lovely notes to read again on your down days... I'm glad for you!

Maureen said...

Wow! What nice people to send you lovely feedback - and so deserving. You obviously take great care and love your flock. And yes, when I do get better at spinning, I would LOVE to get some fleece from you too! ;) How awesome would that be?

Tina T-P said...

I say Wow too - what a wonderful gift (I also LOVE spinning Targhee - I'm glad you have a use for the neck wool - I always hate to see when The Shepherd throws that away :-( And what nice recognition from your customer - Love that kind of feedback. T.