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Meduseld Romney – Two New Yarns

We are excited to add two new sport weight yarns to our store, both made of 100 percent Romney wool.  They are both subtle blends of dyed wools and we are calling their colors Monet Winter Sunset and Monet Reflection.

Romney Yarn

Romney Yarn

 

Monet Winter Sunset is a blend of reds with hints of leaf green and gold subtley intertwined in the Romney wool sheen.  Monet Reflection appears purple or lilac at first to the eye, but actually contains no purple fibers.  It is a blend of reds and blues creating a tweeding effect that changes colors in different light, almost like a color-change sapphire.  You can see these blends in the photos.

I have made some swatches of each.  Sunset was knit with #3 (U.S.) knitting needles.  Reflection was crocheted with an “F” crochet hook.

monetsunsetknit monetreflectioncrochet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both compliment each other well.  Inspired by a sweater I have always liked in Rowan Magazine Number 50, I started knitting the two together in the rose pattern. 

Monet Rowan

This is is as far as I have gotten, and the colors compliment each other nicely.

 

 

monetrose

Each sport weight skein weighs just over 3.2  oz and is 200 yards long.  They can be purchased for $15.00 each in Meduseld’s store.

Meduseld Romney Yarn

Meduseld Romney Yarn

Wattle Fence, Crocheted Vest, and Village Green Network

Several things to discuss today.

You may remember the first wattle fence article with input from the Frontier Culture Museum.  At the time, I advanced the theory with my husband that the wattles would create a cooler area on one side and a microclimate of warmth on the other.  Well, I can’t confirm my entire theory yet, since we have yet to finish the fence :)  Lack of cooperation with the weather I say, but none-the-less, we have been working on raising the other side.  I know there are lots of global warming alarmists who insist the planet is getting warmer, but we had snow in October and snow in March, which makes 6 months of snow, and I thought winter was generally three months longs, plus or minus, but I digress….

So, despite all the gaps between the branches, and all the sun that it still permits to go through, the snow last week confirmed part of my theory.

wattlesnow

 

We had highs in the fifties both Saturday and Sunday and experienced almost a full melt of the snow.  Almost!  Here is the one portion of the garden where the wattle is complete.  I know where my spinach and lettuce are going this year :)

Second, I finished a fun little project, something I had wanted to try lately, one of the little jackets or vest crocheted in the round.  This was made in a size small out of 100 percent mercerised cotton from Greece.  It has a lovely sheen and a ribbon-like feel.   The vest is available in the Meduseld Store.

roundroseflat

 

 

Crocheted Shawl and Scarf

I have just finished two more apparel items for the Meduseld Store.  They will be listed in the store 2/27/13

The first is a filmy soft, almost diaphanous shawl made of alpaca and silk.  The color is dove blue-grey and it is embellished on the fringe with beads of the same color.

Cloud Shawl

Construction included over 800 yards of the alpaca silk blend. 

cloudshawlback

 

The other is a fun, colorful and warm scarf that I call “prism.”  It was made of two skeins of Lion Brand Yarn in Tweed Stripes.  I have added, more like scattered, beads throughout the fringe which adds a delightful sparkle.

Prism Scarf

Fun and vibrant purple glass beads match the exuberantly hued yarn.  No winter drab here!

prismshawlfringe

 

To see more pictures visit our Meduseld Store.

Meduseld Worsted Romney Yarn on FibreTown

Meduseld worsted romney yarn

The most recent FibreTown podcast showed two of Meduseld’s yarns.  Emily Estrada, with FibreTown, will be offering a choice of either to the winner of a drawing she will have when she reaches 100 members on her Ravelry group.  As of today her group called fiber town podcast has 91 members, so it won’t be long.  Make sure you go and join up.  It is a fun, active group where people share their FO’s (finished objects) and their WIP’s (works in progress)  Emily has many skills that she shares and its a good way to learn about some of the yarns and rovings that are available.

One of the yarns Emily showed was Meduseld’s Worsted Romney yarn in 200 yard skeins.  Here I have made some swatches that show how it knits and crochets.  But first, a picture of its luxurious drape.

Meduseld Worsted Yarn

The first swatch was knit on U.S. size 7 knitting needles which would be 4.5 mm.  This worsted yarn has approximately 12 wraps and the suggested needle size is between 7 and 9 – U.S.  As you can see in the picture, it has remarkable sheen.  This swatch has some stretch and has a lovely handle.

Worsted Romney Knit Swatch

The next swatch was crocheted on a size G (4mm) hook, and created a nice tight fabric.  The stitches are all double crochet.  You could certainly use a larger hook, and projects made with this should work up quickly.

Worsted Romney Crocheted

 

We will be listing this yarn on Ravelry.com for the members who want to be able to identify it with their projects.  It is available to buy in our store here

 

FibreTown Follows up on Jacob Roving

Emily Estrada of FibreTown, follows up on her January 30, 2013 about Meduseld’s Jacob roving.  She demonstrates the yarn and the wool hat that she has made out of the roving.   You see it in this podcast:

 FibreTown Podcast February 13, 2013

Emily discusses an upcoming prize give-away she will have when she reaches 100 members.  The prize will be Meduseld yarn.  Sincere thanks to Emily for telling everyone about our farm!

You can visit Emily’s blog at: http://fibretown.blogspot.com/, and you can find her on ravelry as chainoffools.

Here’s her St. Valentine’s Day greeting…

 

Chainoffools St. Valentine's Day Greeting

Chainoffools St. Valentine’s Day Greeting

We have added some more Romney roving to the store, as well as some 100 percent Romney in worsted weight.  These are soft, shiny, 200 yard skeins that weigh   3.5 oz (approx 100g) each, and are priced at only $15.00 per skein.  If you want to buy more than three skeins, please email and I will take off $1.50 per skein.  Click on the Meduseld Farm Store link to the right.

 

Romney yarn - 200 yard skeins

Romney yarn – 200 yard skeins

A few weeks ago, I showed everyone how to dye wool using Cushing Perfection Dyes.  One of the colors I used was a brilliant canary yellow, although they had it called “chartreuse.”  I had visions in my head of carding it with an aquamarine that I had done last year, and I thought that triple plying those would create a beautiful, springlike effect.  Well, no more….

My yarn!  Ahhhh!

My yarn! Ahhhh!

Yes!  My dog, Beowulf, had other ideas.  He took the bag of fleece off the front porch and dragged it out into the yard to play with!  Bad doggy! 

 Happy St. Valentine’s Day to everyone!

 

Meduseld Jacob Roving Featured in Fibretown

logo_meduseld150B

 

We were thrilled (and grateful) to learn that Meduseld’s Jacob wool was recently covered in Emily Estrada’s blog, Fibretown.  I remember Emily at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival and I think there’s another bottle of maple syrup in her future:)  She discusses the roving and even our maple syrup at about minute 13:00.   Watch until she talks about the maple syrup!

FibreTown Video

Emily is a serious fiber artist with many skills and she profiles projects and different kinds of yarn and roving that she uses in her knitting, weaving, and spinning projects. 

She is also on Ravelry.com where she has a strong following.   On Ravelry, look for chainoffools in people or fibre town podcast in groups.

And here is a link to her blog.  http://fibretown.blogspot.com/

We still have some roving available in our store.  This particular roving was a mix of two lavender grey jacobs we have.  These two Jacobs  are also the source for Meduseld’s pale grey Jacob yarn.  Click on the link to the Meduseld Farm Store to to your right.  In the next few days, you can also find the maple syrup :)

Meduseld Yarn – Friesian and Dorset Down

We are going to discuss the two breeds, East Friesian and Dorset Down, together since their fibres are similar and we combine them to make Meduseld’s soft wool.  

The East Friesian Sheep are relative newcomers to this country, having only been imported to this continent in 1994.  They come from north Germany where they were bred as dual, and arguably, tri-purpose sheep.  These sheep are known as dairy sheep and produce much of the fine milk in Europe for sheep milk cheese such as Romano.  They are used for meat as well, and if you are fortunate to have animals with good fleeces, they make good yarn.   They have short hair on their heads and distinctive hairless tails.  If bred with other breeds, they usually increase the amount of lambs the ewes will produce.   

East Friesian Ram

East Friesian Ram

The Dorset Downs are also rare sheep in this country, and usually when I mention the word “Dorset” people think about the large white meat sheep.  I usually have to explain that this is not the meat breed.  These are sheep specifically bred for their baby-soft wool.  Like the other Dorsets, they originate from Dorset, England.  Their fleece has more resemblance to a Merino than a Dorset meat sheep and that is what makes such  soft yarn.  You can hold this against your neck and feel no itch.  Dorset Downs have brown faces and are polled (hornless).

Dorset Down ewe

Dorset Down ewe

 

In the picture below, I have placed samples of the washed fleeces of Friesian (right) and Dorset Down (left) side by side.  The wool is finely crimped, the Dorset having a less defined crimp.  Both resemble cotton.

 freisian fleece

Since the fiber is a finer micron (the measure of the thickness of each strand) the yarn that these sheep combined yield is soft and more closely resembles a springy cotton than a wool.  This is a yarn that can be used directly on the skin.  It is ideal for baby apparel, and for items that touch your skin, like scarves and hat.  It holds its shape very well and it perfect for Fair Isle type knitting and children’s sweaters.  Meduseld’s Friesian/Dorset yarn is a triple ply worsted and we have it in several colors in our store.

Meduseld Friesian Yarn

Meduseld Friesian Yarn

 

This wool does felt easily.  If you are trying to make felted items this is ideal.  If not however, care instructions for your finished garment are extremely important.  Absolutely no machine washing or drying.  Clean the garment in cool water with a delicate laundry soap.  Rinse and wring gently.  You can roll it up in a towel to extract more water, and lay the garment flat to dry.

Call or email for a free yarn sample card!

Sheep Breeds and Yarns – Romney

Over the next few weeks, we are going to go into more technical detail about specific sheep breeds and the yarns their wool yields. 

There are hundreds of breeds of sheep in the world, and through deliberate and sometimes natural breeding, such as on isolated islands in Ireland, they have developed very specific breed traits.  These are manifested in their confirmation, the shape of their heads, and their wool.  Some sheep have horns and some don’t.   They also develop differences in resilience to disease and parasites.  There are some breeds that seem to tolerate crowded conditions and some that are weak and susceptible to health problems. 

While wool is the most important issue for a fiber/textile operation, the shape of their heads also has a big impact.  For one breeding cycle here, we used a large Romney ram as sire.  Since some of our ewes are Romneys, we were seeking good pure breed genes.  And, since cross-breeding often improves other breeds, we hoped that this would add size and fiber quality to some of the Jacobs.   Unfortunately, this ram had an enormous head, which by Romney sheep breeder standards was a perfect head.  The poor girls had such difficulty birthing in the spring, though, that I had to literally pull 21 baby lambs during birthing.  They all survived, but doing that as a going concern was not going to be good for my ewes.  It explained why at the farm where we got the ram, many of their ewes were being delivered by c-section.  Yes, c-section.  Not good for the ewes, and a very expensive way to get yarn.

Ever since, we have selected rams with narrow heads, and the ewes are able to birth without help.

Today, we are going to discuss the Romney breed and its fiber in detail.

Romney ewe and lambs

 

Romneys are a breed that originated in Romney, England.  They developed into this specific breed without human intervention and are a large dual purpose (meaning both meat and wool) sheep that has a long fiber.  They come in both white and black, and white sheep can carry the black gene, as seen in the photo above.  Since they are such a good breed, they are often used to cross with other breeds to improve those.  For example, the Coopworth breed enjoys having Romney in its parentage and you can see it in their large confirmation and long wool. 

Romney wool usually has a long loose crimp and often have “sheen,” the quality that gives the yarn its luster.  When we selected our first Romneys, I deliberately sought the ones with the most sheen, and you can see it easily in pictures. 

The first photograph is of a bulky yarn, the next a worsted, and then a fingerling weight.

 bulky luster

 Meduseld bulky yarn

 

worsted luster

Meduseld worsted weight yarn

 Fingerling Romney yarn

 Meduseld Romney Fingerling/Lace weight yarn

They also make a lot of yarn.  For several years we had an almost two-hundred pound Romney who created 14 pounds of wool each year.  Once it was processed, his fleece still yielded 8 pounds of yarn, an amazing achievement for one animal.  I wish I had cloned him:)

Romney yarn, due to its smooth cuticle (what gives it its luster) and loose crimp (the curls) tends to drape very well.  It is excellent for loose flowing garments, such as shawls and draping sweaters.  The yarn also makes beautiful, warm hats and scarves.  It would not be good for garment that needs lots of structure as it responds to gravity and drops or pulls from the top.   There are Romney yarns made from a tighter crimp fleece that won’t do this. 

Another factor to consider is the scale that measures from course to fine.  Yarns can be lab tested for microns, or the width of each strand.  Where a specific yarn falls on this scale indicates how comfortable that particular yarn will be next to your skin.  Our Dorset Downs (not to be confused with the meat sheep Dorsets) with their ultra fine fibres, provide a baby-soft yarn.  A Romney’s yarn is more course, making it good for sweaters and outer garments.  Which is good – who would want to cover up that sheen :>)

 

The Cost of Making Yarn

At fiber festivals you’ll sometimes hear people talk about the cost of custom wool yarns.  “Yarn doesn’t cost this much at (pick your favorite craft store).”  This post will show some of the differences and costs of store vs. custom yarns.  Included in the custom yarns are the quality oriented yarn companies that you can find at yarns shops, as opposed to Walmart or Joann’s.

Let’s look at the differences first.  The most obvious is the fibre content, and the content of the majority of yarns from Caron and Lion Brand and other mainstream producers are acrylic and nylon – petroleum products.  There are benefits to these yarns, and I even have used them from time to time.  Those benefits are:

  • Affordable
  • Consistent
  • Machine washable

That’s where the benefits end.   Here’s where those fibres begin and it isn’t pretty.

(Oil Refinery)

These yarns won’t decompose in the trash and they won’t break down for years in the environment.   Additionally, synthetic yarns do not let your skin breath and they contribute to creating a demand for oil products and a dependence of foreign oil.  Not good.  When you consider the last disaster in the Gulf, maybe less oil is better.

But let’s get back to why custom wool costs more.

Here’s where wool fibres begin, and it is pretty:

lambs

 

Synthetic fibre hasn’t been fed for a year before shearing.   The darlings that produce wool, sheep, alpacas, those fuzzy cashmere goats and Angoras, all have to be fed for the entire year in order to harvest their fleece.  In some cases this is not too expensive if pasture is available and adequate.  During the winter, though, farmers still end up having to “hay” their flocks.  (As a side note, some natural resources experts are starting to see the value of grazing sheep on midwest wild prairies – turns out its good for the prairies….that will be the subject of a future article.)

Synthetics don’t have to be shorn.   Each spring, the sheep are shorn of their fleeces.  This benefits both the shepherd and the sheep, as the summer heat would be intolerable for the sheep with long fleeces.   The going rate is $5-6.00 per sheep, and that does not include transportation.  Each farmer has to budget for shearing day.

Custom mills cost more per pound than corporations.  If one were the head of Synthtic Yarn, Inc (fictional name) you’d approach to mega mill and get a cost of dollars per pound.  When a small sheep farmer approaches a mill, it usually a straight $23.00 – $30.00 per pound, depending on the mill, the type of fibre and number of plies.  If you were to send less than ten pounds to be processed, there is usually a surcharge for that.

What all this means is that the standard four-ounce (quarter pound) skein of yarn is going to have to cost about $7.00 just to make up the cost of processing.  That doesn’t include the cost of the fiber festival registration, the overhead and infrastructure of the farm, the feed, the shearing, the veterinarian, or last of all, a small income for the shepherd(ess).   There are also the unexpected losses – my dear friend Eva lost her sheep to a bear last fall.

Some of the more exclusive larger yarn companies have found ways to get around this by making their skeins smaller.  I am holding a ball of yarn from S. Charles called Adele.  It is 20 percent mohair; the rest is viscose, polyester, and polyamide.  The weight of this ball is only 1.75 ounces, or 50 grams!  The retail price on this little gem is $20.95!  That’s over $160.00 per pound!

Please support your local wool producers.  It supports them, keeps local lands undeveloped and does not support oil dependence!

 

 

Guest Knitter and Yarn Review

I am very fortunate to have among my dear friends an expert knitter, Kate.  Her creations are quite simply stunning and she regularly shows up wearing a gossamer web of gorgeous knitted lace.  The last time she came over, she was wearing this:

Here is another view:

She made this with Meduseld’s Romney yarn in the fingerling weight (available in Meduseld’s Farm store).  You can see in the second picture that she beaded the shawl as well.   If you click on the pictures you can see the pattern enlarged.

Everyone, meet Kate!

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I’ve always drooled over the books of Estonian lace shawls, so this summer I decided to make one for my sister’s wedding. I found a pattern I liked in “Knitted Lace of Estonia,” by Nancy Bush: Madli’s Shawl (in Meduseld’s Amazon store). The center pattern is called Haga, which means twig, or small branch. The original pattern calls for nupps at the ends of the “twigs,” but I decided to put crystal beads with bronzey gold centers in their place, to add some weight and drape, and just a little sparkle.

The wool was lovely and easy to work with, and after washing and blocking, has a nice drape and sheen to it. I used a slightly larger needle, a size six, because I wanted to emphasize the light, lacy texture. I haven’t shown it to my sister yet, but I can hardly wait to…

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Check back for other posts about Kate.  Soon, we will have another post with a pattern for a shawlette that was designed by Kate.