January 17, 2017

From Sheep to Shawl

You hear a lot these days about the resurgence of natural wool in Europe, and how a handful of Europeans are bringing back "old school" wool to the knitting community.  Here in the states, I don't think the average crafter is really aware of just how much natural yarn is available.  Old School has been available for a long, long time!
In 2014, I convinced my husband that my path to greatness required me to raise sheep. Although I know that he didn't really want to go in that direction, we borrowed a trailer, drove to South Carolina to locate a breeder in the middle of literally nowhere U.S.A., and we bought our first sheep: a ram lam and two ewe lambs.  I named them Stanley, Stella, and Blanche, and they have each lived up to their A Streetcar Named Desire caricatures.  Stanley is a teeswater/cormo cross.  Stella and Blanche are corriedale/finn crosses.  And so began the breeding program.
Stella & Blanche
Now, in 2017, we have twelve sheep (having lost 3 to one thing or another) and I have my own farm-raised yarn. I bred it for its luminosity and depth, for its sturdiness and drape.  I sheared it and skirted it.  I sent it to Mountain Meadow Wool in Wyoming, where Ben bent over backwards to make the single-ply that I had in my head. I dyed it here on the farm. I named it Single Sheep. I sold a bunch of it--it's still available in the shop, don't worry!--and while attending middle school basketball games this season, I knit it up into this lovely little number which, incidentally also happens to be in my daughter's basketball team colors. The pattern is the Soho Shawl by Kristin Ledgett. I used most of a skein of Autumn Afternoon and about half of a skein of Natural, but your yardage may differ because I made mine a bit larger than the pattern suggested. Although the yarn is a little "curly" in the skein, it relaxes both while knitting it and after a good soak followed by light blocking.
Cedar Hill Farm Company's Single Sheep isn't your average yarn, folks.  I don't mean to toot my own horn, but in the sunlight, it literally GLOWS. This isn't a superwash. It's a natural, American farm-raised wool. It hasn't been chemically abused or bleached in any way--as a matter of a fact, it amazes me that the mill was able to get all that red clay out without resorting to a chemical ooze.  It's sheepy. It's organic. The colorways that I have chosen are earthy and vivid. It's just plain wonderful wool yarn! And if you are like I am, which some people may refer to as a "wool snob", then this is a yarn that you will love, too. If you would like to try it, just click on any of the links in this post or go to my shop's home page. Single Sheep is the featured yarn on the home page, and you can just click on any of the photos to get your hands on some for yourself.


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