October 5, 2014

Weaving life, wool and Walt Whitman

"Leaf Island" by V. Fiddler - a study in diagonal techniques.
by Walt Whitman
Weave in, weave in, my hardy life,
Weave yet a soldier strong and full for great campaigns to come,
Weave in red blood, weave sinews in like ropes,
      the senses, sight weave in,
Weave lasting sure, weave day and night the weft, the warp,
      incessant weave, tire not,
(We know not what the use O life, nor know the aim, the end,
      nor really aught we know,
But know the work, the need goes on and shall go on, the death-
      envelop’d march of peace as well as war goes on,)
For great campaigns of peace the same the wiry threads to weave,
We know not why or what, yet weave, forever weave.

September 30, 2014

Young Lincoln ram Hamish (center) cuddled up with other rams for an afternoon siesta.

September 24, 2014

Canadian Chocolate Welsh Mountain Sheep

 We're deep into Autumn and it's almost breeding season.. The cool fall air resounds with the shotgun crack of horns smashing. The Welsh Mountain rams are docile most of the year. But as the weather cools their natural instincts take over and they are constantly facing off for a fight, sometimes in pairs, or groups. Some of the older boys drift off and find a quiet place to keep out of the fights.

Coming in for the evening.

Top photo: This photo was taken seconds before they started to butt heads. I find that my presence makes it worse, so I retreat and leave them to their rutting.
Bottom photo: A few moments later and the fight is forgotten.  They have a good instinct for safety and come in on their own, knowing that the coyotes will be starting their evening hunt as the sun sets.

Newland Charlie Brown
A note about Charlie Brown: Over the last decade in North America, brown lambs have been born to purebred registered Black Welsh Mountain sheep. Up until 2014, they could not be registered. As the trend continues, and their lineage is being recorded, the American Black Welsh Mountain Sheep Association has established the new breed "Chocolate Welsh Mountain". Charlie Brown is one of nine born between 2000 and 2014. The nine Chocolate Welsh  have been born on three U.S. farms and one farm in Canada - Newland Ranch in Saskatchewan. So far, there are no brown offspring from Charlie. His lambs from registered Black Welsh ewes are black.

September 9, 2014

Time for the old wool quilt

A random brick pattern cut from wool pants and jackets. Tufting in red wool yarn.

Backing is yarn dyed/woven flannel.
September, and the forecast called for snow - it was hard to believe as it was such a sunny, perfect harvest day. I changed the cool cotton sheets of summer for thick cotton flannels and took the thin summer quilt off the bed. The summer quilt is an Irish Chain pattern in crisp white cotton broadcloth with the chains and sashes in navy blue. It has been hand-sewn and quilted, no machine stitching in any of its construction. But thats another story.

 I selected this old wool quilt (shown in above photos) from my linen cupboard of yard sale textile treasures. I can feel the love and necessity sewn into this old beauty. Every piece is cut from woolen suit pants and jackets, long before the days of polyester and nylon blends (perhaps there's some fine woolen skirts also cut apart and sewn into it). The quilt backing is made from flannel (threads dyed and woven, rather than printed flannel most often found now). I did a burn test on the small tufts of filling fiber that has been pulled through the backing during stitching. It is a very thin layer of short-fibered cotton sandwiched between the layers. The quilting of layers is done with bright red wool yarn, hand-sewn in tufted knots (some of the red yarn, not light-fast, has faded over the years). The overall weight of the quilt is substantial and feels like a hug when you burrow down into it.

It did snow! First a mist like rain and the temperature began to drop. When the furnace cut in at 5:30,  I trudged reluctantly outside into slushy snow and half heartedly covered the tomato plants. Obviously too much moisture for frost, but better safe then sorry. I opened gates and sheds for any sheep that might want to be inside, and hurried back to the house and let the border collie into the porch.

After checking the weather forecast, how wonderful it was to crawl back under the old wool quilt!