WHAT IS SHEEP SPECIFIC YARN?
Sheep specific yarn is breed specific taken one step further. Wool Maiden yarn will have a tag on it with the name of the actual sheep that grew that particular skein of wool. This is done for a few reasons...it is fun to know the name of the sheep that grew that wool, but also each sheep will have their own characteristics within the breed itself. That means you can count on the consistency of Delilah's greyish oatmeal wool versus Huckleberry's golden oatmeal wool even though they are both from the CVM breed. Sheep specific yarn is a great way to feel more connected to the small farm that grows your wool.
HOW DO I WASH MY WOOL GARMENTS?
Always always always hand wash your wool. Even for super-wash wool, which is really wool coated in a plastic layer of chemicals that prevents felting in the washing machine.
Ideally, a wool soap like Euclan in lukewarm water is best for washing your woollens. Lay your garment flat to dry, out of sunlight.
WHAT WOOL MILL DO YOU USE?
I have tried various mills in western Canada over the last nine years and hands down the best mill for the yarn I am looking for is Rosebud River Fibre Mill in Alberta. Alex Martin is excellent at processing our wool and ensuring that the finished product maintains the characteristics of my sheep's individual fleeces. She is consistent, professional, and kind. I count her as a friend and I absolutely trust her when I ship my precious fleeces off to her.
There are more and more wool mills popping up in Canada right now and I hope to sample some of them in the near future as well as continue with Rosebud.
WHAT BREEDS OF SHEEP DO YOU HAVE AT YOUR FARM?
We currently have a flock of 17 sheep, and that seems to fluctuate over the years. We started off with two Debouillet Merinos (Rambouillet (French Merino) crossed with Delaine Merinos), one lone Shetland, and one mixed fibre breed. Since then, we have grown our flock size by selecting the best of the best. Today, we still have Debouillet Merinos, as well as purebred Gotlands, purebred Shetlands, and CVMs (California Variegated Mutants).
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE SHEEP?
Yes! My oldest sheep, from the original flock I acquired in 2014 is Posey. We just hit it off instantly and I know the love is mutual. She is a very sweet natured Debouillet Merino and she ambles over towards me whenever I am in the paddock. She loves her hip massages and chin scratches and will even fall asleep standing up if we hit the right spot! Posey likes to find me in the pen and lean against my hip, casually chewing her cud. There have been a few times when a ram has shown some offense to my presence, and Posey quietly walks to stand between the ram and my body. She is a very special girl in her senior years and I've enjoyed her immensely.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE SHEEP YOU DON'T KEEP?
Space is at a premium here on our little hobby farm and we have to be selective on how many sheep we can keep. Moreover, there are only so many rams a farm can have so as to prevent inbreeding. Every few years we switch our rams for new ones, usually selling them to other fibre farms in western Canada. Also, if we have a surplus of ewe lambs, we sell those too. Older sheep who have been retired will be euthanized if they appear to be in great discomfort. It is the hardest part of farming, but also necessary.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU SHEAR?
Most of our sheep require shearing just once a year, but we shear the Gotlands twice a year as they grow an incredible amount of fibre that is long and may get felted if we leave it too long.
WHY DO YOU USE BOTH NATURAL DYES AND CONVENTIONAL ACID DYES?
This is the question I get asked most often. My first love is natural dyes and I have been experimenting with them since 2012. The colours that may be achieved with plants and minerals and mushrooms and even insects is fascinating. I feel I am just now beginning to master some of the techniques and there is so much more to learn! As botanicals have gained in popularity in the last few years, it is an exciting and inspiring time to be working with a more sustainable approach to dye! Having said that, I do work with acid dyes on my Folklore line as the versatility and colour combinations are unique and the possibilities are limitless. Interestingly, I lean towards creating more natural coloured hues with the acid dyes that echo those found with plant dyes. Both have benefits and both have challenges, and for now, I continue to dabble with acid dyes while dedicating most of my colour work to natural dyes.
DO YOU DO CUSTOM ORDERS?
Yes, please! I really enjoy working with a customer to create an array of homespun yarns or a collection of sweater quantity. Keep in mind that matching an existing colourway is virtually impossible as a small batch dyer, however I can apply my dye recipes and come up with something similar. If you are interested, please reach out and use my contact form to email me with your ideas or questions.