Long before I ever dreamed that I would be spinning and dyeing fiber, I had (and still have) a family friend named Donna that raised sheep. Donna (as a little fyi, she was also my 8th grade softball coach and her husband worked with my father for some thirty years) invited me to her yearly sheep shearing party and being the admitted knitting addict, I thought this sounded like great fun. It was so cold out in her barn, but the hired shearer was quick and accurate with the sheep and the barn was filled with fiber enthusiasts. Over in one corner was the skirting table where women were taking the newly shorn fleeces and nimbly pulling off the veggie matter, mud and sheep “stuff”. I was amazed at the color and feel of the fleeces — under the outer, bleached coat was this rich, lanolin filled wool with such a beautiful crimp to it. Oh, and did I say there were two new little lambs in the barn too? I was in heaven!!! From time to time I would slip into the house for either a bowl of chili or a mug of hot chocolate and warm up a bit, but then it was back to the barn. As a fleece would come off a sheep, someone in the group would claim it, it would get skirted, weighted, priced and then bagged. The owner of Ozark Carding Mill was there and most of the fleeces were sent with her to be processed. Being caught up in it all I bought the fleeces of two young sheep of a moorit (brownish/black) coloring. I talked to women in the group and found someone that would spin my fiber, after it came back from processing, into a worsted 3-ply yarn. Not being a spinner at the time, I had no idea what I was asking! If someone asked me to spin a consistent 3-ply worsted yarn now that I do spin, I would absolutely faint!! But, my hired spinner (I’m embarrassed to say that so much time has passed that I can no longer remember her name, but she was a saint!), took on the task and gave me the loveliest yarn.
I ended up with enough yarn to make two afghans, one for myself and one for my parents 50th wedding anniversary present. The pattern is called “Endearing” (#15) from an old Leisure Arts book titled “Big Book of Quick Knit Afghans“. It was knit using US#15/10mm 36″ circular needles holding two strands of yarn together. The finished measurements are 58″x80”.
Because it was knit holding two strands of yarn on such big needles, it was a fast project and the pattern work stands out against the natural brown color of the yarn.
Everytime I use this afghan it brings back fond memories and a smile to my face because this was my first exposure to the world of sheep and fiber. Hmmm, I had no idea what the future held for me!!