Back in May 2009 I sheared half a sheep by hand, with non-electrical scissors. It’s Veluws Heideschaap from the flock in Loenen. My husband had to do the second half as I was not well enough. It was a marvelous experience!
You have to tap into your own “mammal-ness” to do this. You use your own body to communicate with the sheep’s body. Touching and breathing is very important. You create a rapport doing so and then the ewe allows you to manhandle it. You get to co-operate with another mammal, wordlessly. A lovely experience.
Here’s the shepherd walking a ewe to its destination by keeping it between his legs:
(Those are adult cows near the flock, a natural landbreed: Heidekoeien. They come in fantastic colourings and are very healthy. The ultimate and perfect cow, in my opinion.)
At the end of the day we went home with two fleeces, here’s one washed and one not:
I was just learning to spin and I spun this:
322 grams, 483 meters in a thick and thin single,
Sturdy but not scratchy yarn, surprisingly. With a nice gleam. From an ewe called Stientje. (All the ewes were called Stientje in that flock, it made it easier for the shepherd.)
In February 2013 I strived to knit a Stientje sweater in a month. I didn’t succeed, maybe because back then I was still brainfogged and not very relaxed. But I did manage to surround myself with a friendly environment and post to the blog regularly. And I used a handspun yoke in colours that suit my face (Winter-type) and that were chosen especially for me by Passe-Partout:
On the 3rd of March 2013 I finished Stientje sweater. I was so happy with the project! Resonating the sheep shearing and the spinning and a pleasant month of February which in other years usually had me depressed:
Feeling connected to sheep, nature and the history of knitting I wore my sweater with pleasure every day!
Albeit a little less so after I got an unfriendly comment about it from a Dutch knitter.
As a group, we were having a technical discussing about yokes and how they can play optic tricks with breasts and I used this picture as an example:
He said that, as a fashion educator, he though my yoke was very ugly.
Now, he just could have left out the word “very”, I feel.
That comment stuck with me for a long time.
But it didn’t stop me from wearing the sweater. Although now mostly at the cabin and not in the city.
In November 2014 I separated the body from the yoke because it had become too ragged. That’s a soft spun single for you. It pills. Heideschaap has a long staple and when it comes loose from the thread it floats and catches dustbunnies. Ragged.
The yoke went on to become Februari sweater, marrying some Irish Donegal Heather Yarn. The Stientje body became a seatwarmer for the cat, on the bench, outside on the porch.
There is has been for years, through Summer and Winter. Various animals have enjoyed it including birds and a ferocious squirrel who tried to tear it apart for nest lining.
The sweater withstood all these attacks marvelously. Which is why I thought of it when we had some trouble recently with another animal attack…
Let me take you out on our meadow this early morning, our meadow with an exotic tree on its horizon:
It’s the fig I got for my birthday last year.
There are already figs on it! Five of them. It’s happy on the spot that we choose for it. I take that as personal feedback.
A real fig, in the middle of Dutch farming landscape:
As you can see it’s a true knitter’s fig, it’s wearing a sweater:
A tree wearing Stientje sweater?!
You know I’m not the one for decorative yarning. Yarn bombing is not my style, I’m too lazy for knitting without practical use. So this tree sweater must have a purpose.
Somebody is vandalizing my fig.
I think it’s a deer rubbing its antlers. But it may also be a hare.
Sturdy Stientje will divert further attacks!
It’s a normal thing to have to protect your trees out in the country. This is the hare protector most of our apple trees wear:
The fig can’t wear these since it has too many stems sprouting upwards and they are too small for such a thing. Ideal for pieces of knitwear though!
A tree with sleeves, who’d have thought.
Yet some fruits need protecting from another mammalian vandalism:
This is my tortured gooseberry bush, it’s wearing chicken wire and A Big Stick to remind my husband that this is not a weed when he’s frolicking about with his strimmer. We’re getting mixed results. Perhaps I should adorn it with some bright coloured knitwear.
Preferably in eye searing Landscape Dyes Kingfisher…
that’ll be the bright turquoise on the left:
pic by Wingham Wool Work