I like to spin wool into yarn, I also like to knit. Most of the time I don't spin with an end project in mind, I spin to spin. This is one time where I was spinning for a specific yarn/project. It didn't go as planned, but I was able to still use the yarn for something else.
This post was written about 4 years ago, I have improved with my spinning and knitting since then. But I learned a lot from this project. I still have the slipper socks, the Tunis wool held up well. They have been machine washed, and on occasion, accidentally thrown into the dryer. They didn't shrink down to kids size, like most wool would have, which is one reason why Tunis is a great option for knit projects.
Ply magazine's Spring edition, was all about down wool breeds. We were contacted by them last year, and was asked if we would be interested in sending them some of our Tunis roving, dyed. I was really excited for the issue to come out, I knew our wool was being used in a sock project. I really have never gotten the hang of spinning with Tunis, I prefer the longwools. The issue came out, and the socks that were made with the wool, were amazing :) The article about spinning Tunis wool, was very thorough, and helpful.
I started my own project using Tunis wool. I knew that I was probably not going to be able to do a three ply sock weight yarn, but I was hoping for worsted weight. Ha! I ended up with Super Bulky, it is obvious I still have some skills to learn, when it comes to spinning.
I dyed the wool after it was made into yarn, spinning white wool, can be a little boring, but I prefer to dye yarn over roving. I used Cushings, Perfection Dyes-Apricot
Even though it was not the yarn I was hoping for, I decided to find a project, where it could be used. I found a pattern from the Lion Brand Yarn Company, Super Bulky slipper socks.
I have only ever made two pairs of socks, and that was with commercial yarn, and a video tutorial that walked me through step by step of the pattern. I did manage to work my way through this pattern, and ended up with some slipper socks. Yes, there are some mistakes, and they are not quite the same size, but they are super squishy (Tunis yarn characteristic), comfortable and I LOVE the color.
So, even as imperfect as they are, this girl will be wearing them!
It was a fun sheep to socks project, even if they are not the sock project I had planned, when spinning.
Yarn: Tunis 3-Ply, Super Bulky.
Color: Apricot (Cushings Perfection Dye)
Pattern: Lion Brand Slipper Socks, Knit
Needle Felting is one way to use up that wool stash!
What is Needle Felting?
It is a fiber art that creates felt without the use of water.
Using a barbed needle, wool fibers are tangled together by a continuous jabbing of the needle into the wool fiber.
You just need a few tools to get started:
It is a great project for children, you just have to be careful because those needles are SHARP (ouch).
For a beginner project, you can start out using a cookie cutter for a pattern. When we teach classes, that is typically what we use. (great ornaments)
You can work your way up to sculpting three dimensional projects.
I will be honest, I do not have the flair for making anything but "simple". I have a friend, on the other hand, who is amazing at it. They raise sheep as well, and when you have sheep, you have wool and this has been a great artistic outlet for her.
This was her second felted wool project, which started out with a simple cookie cutter
She quickly moved onto more complicated projects...
Embellishments, ornaments, and felted figurines are just a few things you can create with needle felting.
One of the first investments after moving to the farm was an electric fence. We had small children, so I was a little concerned about the "safety" of having one. (city girl). I was assured we had nothing to worry about. It gives you quite a poke, but no one is going to be seriously injured or die from touching it.
That fence has been one of the best investments we have made. Over the years it has kept the sheep where they belong (99 percent of the time), and has kept them safe from predators.
It has also bought with it some curse words, crying, and laughs.
Kids and the electric fence...
Having six girls that have grown up on the farm, most of them have had run ins with the fence. Some intentional, some not. One that I vividly remember is daughter #2 playing in the field, it was a typical Michigan spring, wet and muddy. She was walking along the fence, when she stepped into some knee deep mud. Her foot came out of her boot and she lost her balance. While falling, she grabbed a hold of the fence on her way down. (ouch) Even though she was being shocked, she kept her grip on the fence, not wanting to fall in the mud. Mike ran out there as fast as he could, while I was yelling at her to just let go of the fence. Wasn't going to happen, so there she stood crying, until her dad rescued her. It was in no way funny then, she was crying, we were consoling. It didn't become something to laugh about, until years later
Dogs and the electric fence...
All of our dogs have had run ins with the fence, it is only a matter of time. It usually happens once and they are cured. Our Border Collies have all responded the same way, they run to the house, and it takes hours before they will go outside again. They are convinced there is some evil lurking outside, just waiting to get them. Sometimes when they are needed in the field, I have to assure them the fence is off, and it is okay for them to jump through. They usually pace and whine before making the leap.
Nosy neighbors and the electric fence...
I don't know how many times we have been told that electric fences will not work on keeping our sheep in. Electric fences have come a long way, and so have chargers and we have not had too many problems with keeping the sheep where they belong.
We had one nosy neighbor come down for a visit and during the conversation, he told my husband that electric fences were no good, they would barely keep back a tame cow. In other words, we wasted our money having one put up. The neighbor continued to say that when he was younger, they would get blades of grass, and touch the fence to check it. They would get a little tingle, if it was working. Mike didn't say anything. The neighbor decided to demonstrate and picked a long blade of grass. Mike still didn't say anything (but was thinking, what is this guy doing?) The neighbor ended the demonstration by yelling a few choice curse words. Mike, who had a run in or two with the fence himself, simply stated "the fence is pretty hot". They have come a long way in the last 50 years!
The Shepherdess and the Electric Fence
Even the cautious shepherdess gets it sooner or later.
We had a beagle who kept getting into the pasture and bothering the sheep. He just wasn't getting hit by the fence. I didn't need a beagle out there getting himself into trouble, so I decided to "train" him to the fence. I picked him up and took him over to the fence, I thought " this is going to hurt me more than it is you", and boy did it. Being the city girl, (and one who did not pay attention in Science class) I didn't realize puppy wouldn't feel a thing, just me! Boy, was that a surprise! I looked around to see if there were any witnesses. Thankfully, not! I did tell Mike about it later (country boy, and did pay attention in Science class) . I think he was biting his lip, trying not to laugh. Eventually, puppy did get trained to the fence, without any help from me. The electric fence does it's job and we are happy to have it, but sometimes it does get the better of us.