A Lot of Felting!

I was asked awhile back to create the prizes for the upcoming Northern California Shetland Sheep Dog Herding Club Trial. I met with their representative and we planned out what she thought they would like.

Here’s what we came up with (I think we could be humming “…and a partridge in a pear tree”!)

Four bowls/glass cozies:


Four purses/organizers (thanks, Dona, for the beautiful linings!):



Four beverage cup sleeves:


Four sets of dryer balls:


Six Merino-Silk scarves (thanks for all the dyeing, Collen!)


Seven hot pads and mug rugs:


And twenty (!) gift card holders.


The trial is this weekend. Nellie, and all the sheep providing the wool would like to wish all the dogs good luck!


Published in: on October 2, 2014 at 1:47 am  Comments (5)  

How Does a Llama Stay Cool?

I think it is starting to cool off a little, at least at night. But during the day, still pretty warm so a llama has to do what a llama has to do.

How does this one llama stay cool?

Enjoys a good dust bath….

rolling in dust - newer

Tries a mud bath….

paridot in mud

Relaxes in the shade….

paridot in shade

Hangs out in the barn with friends…..

Paridot in barn


Cools off those hot hooves in his own personal pool….

in pool

Hang in there, Paridot. It will be fall soon…






Published in: on September 4, 2014 at 4:36 am  Comments (1)  

My Occasional Visit to the Michigan Fiber Festival

On a recent visit to see family in Michigan I was also able to include a couple stops at the Michigan Fiber Festival, always a fun place to visit.


Because I was organizing a fleece pick up (more on that later) I didn’t spend a lot of time visiting vendor booths. Of course, I had to stop at the T-shirt booth….


And visit my friends in the Jacob Sheep Breeders booth….


And find a little color to show spinning friends back home….



But then it was on to….


This festival is not as big as Black Sheep Gathering or some others I have visited but still has a really nice selection of sheep breeds.

Of course, the very familiar Jacobs.


And who could mistakes our big-eared friend for anything but a BFL?


Look at this crimp from a BFL!


Some very pretty little Shetlands…..


These Icelandic Sheep couldn’t be bothered to stop eating for me to get photos of their faces. It’s ok guys, we all have our priorities!


And who could resist these elegant Karakul Sheep faces? (i may be prejudiced since I think my Karakul wether, Quentin, has one of the prettiest faces I’ve ever seen).


But, the short visit was over. I needed to pack up the rental car to get six fleeces from my friend Rose’s flock (OK, it was going to be 5 but one little Jacob fleece from Fat Toaster Jacobs and some beautiful Jacob roving from Sweetgrass Farm managed to jump into the car!) and some handmade wooden drawers from my folks’ old house over to UPS for shipping back home. I often have friends riding with me to fiber festivals. Luckily not this time!


One more fleece to drop off at Zeillinger’s Wool Mill who are here at the festival (Convenient, huh?!) to get processed into roving and I can be on my way. This is Coco Chanel, a gorgeous CVM x Australian Bond from my friend, Rose, of Promised Land Sheep and Beef in Northern Michigan. I have had this fleece before and it makes the most beautiful rusty brown hand spun yarn.


I like this small-ish, friendly fiber festival and I am sure I will be back sometime.


Published in: on August 17, 2014 at 2:47 pm  Comments (3)  

New Sheep

This blog post is WAY overdue. But I want to state up-front that it is NOT my fault. This is Carmen, the sheep’s blogger (well, and the llama’s blogger, if you count him. Some do. Some don’t)

I wanted to write this awhile back but Jackie kept saying “No, I’m too tired from all the travel” (what does her being tired have to do with ME writing the blog? The lady makes little sense sometimes). But I finally convinced her that people would give up waiting for her blog and switch to reading ones on goats….or rabbits….or cats – whatever people do when they don’t have blogs about sheep to read.

I have to rely on Jackie for part of this story. I think she told you awhile back that she picked up some new sheep in Oregon. She went there with her friend, Dona. I like Dona. She makes me look really good in her photos of me. So, these new sheep got to ride in the back of the van.

riding home in back

I guess they were so comfortable back there, they could even eat while they rode!
Heddy and Hazel eating in van


They seem to be learning the routines – like coming into the barn with the rest of us.

h & h come in with flock

I had to show them where to get water.

"Drink here."

“Drink here.”

Sometimes I have Diamond lamb-sit them.

Diamond oversees

Turns out, Diamond is good at baby-sitting because she is a Grandmother. We found this out when her granddaughter, Laura, came to live with us after the Herdwicks arrived.


"Yes, Laura, lambs are a lot of work. We need to keep an eye on them".

“Yes, Laura, lambs are a lot of work. We need to keep an eye on them”.

Apparently, they thought Laura might have some milk for them. She had lambs this year at her old place but she said she is done with that now so – no more milk, lambs.

hazel thinks Laura might have milk

Well, I guess Laura can stay. Even though she is a Jacob. I worked hard to increase the number of Shetlands here (I traded my friend, Cassie, for Eve and Earl – two for one!) but apparently I have failed. The Jacobs now outnumber us more than 2 to 1 (I am a smart sheep and can do higher math).

And, I guess the Herdwicks can stay. They are pretty darn cute (for not being Shetlands).

You’ll hear from me again whenever I can get Jackie to let me get a word in.

Carmen the Beautiful

cute faces







Published in: on August 11, 2014 at 4:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Where Are We Going?!

After wrapping up another wonderful Black Sheep Gathering experience, it’s time to hit the road.

Empty the van…


Let friends check out our fleeces….


REALLY empty out van…


Specially equip van…


Hit the road…


Arrive at Oregon coast….


Over bridges….


Quick stop at a very nice yarn shop….


Down a very long dirt road….


And we’re here!


Meet Hazel and Heddy, the Herdwicks, who are going home with us!


“Yay ! We’re off to California” “Where’s that?” “No idea, let’s just hope they have hay there!”


Published in: on June 24, 2014 at 2:06 pm  Comments (2)  

A Little Bit of Black Sheep Gathering

We made our annual trek to Black Sheep Gathering in Oregon. It seems like I just got home from France but colored sheep were calling again!

First, we had to load up the van with about 135 pounds of fleece headed for processing at Creekside Mill up here. And, no, it wasn’t all mine! I am having batts made of mine for making felt. Others were having yarn or roving made.


It is always good to be back here: familiar signs welcome us.


There are creative booth displays and fabulous entries in the fiber art show. The needle felted dogs are created by our friend, Shannon, of Kenleigh Acres who won Reserve Champion with this year’s entry.



There is plenty of time to see those special sheep faces.






Sheep start the day eating – and figuring out how to keep their ears out the way!



They get ready for their big moment in the show ring.


Some with more enthusiasm than others!


And they wait their turn to go into the ring.


Some get a little tired waiting and need to rest on a nearby friend.


Of course, all those sheep produce a lot of wool. So, if it is in the form of processed wool ready to spin or felt…


…or in the form of fleeces to be purchased to process, wool needs to be acquired. Watching the wool show is one way to learn about fleeces you may want to purchase.


The fleeces are so popular here that many people stand in line to get a chance to purchase them (ok, so I was one of them this year for the first time!)


One more day here to wrap up attending a few more demos, check out those vendors I missed, and get a few last looks at beautiful sheep, before heading out for the next adventure which also involves sheep. Stay tuned!


Published in: on June 22, 2014 at 6:01 am  Comments (2)  

Good to Be Home

The trip to the 8th World Congress of Coloured Sheep in France was very special and a great education into other sheep breeds and how people are re-claiming the value of wool in their cultures.


However, it is good to be home and back to my own wool pursuits:


Washing fleeces….

"Moon" a Jacob from Meridian Jacobs

“Moon” a Jacob from Meridian Jacobs


Drying fleeces….

"Quentin" one of our very own special Karakuls

“Quentin” one of our very own special Karakuls


Planning projects with wool from the trip….

with Noire du Velay batt, still in France

with Noire du Velay batt, still in France

Customs made me open this bag!

Customs made me open this bag!

It made it! Soon to be felt and yarn.

It made it! Soon to be felt and yarn.

Dark brown Soay yarn from the UK brought to the Congress and my hand spun Herdwick. A shawl is being planned!

Dark brown Soay yarn from the UK brought to the Congress and my hand spun Herdwick. A shawl is being planned!

Spinning and washing yarn…

Some beautiful wool from Coco Chanel, a CVM X Australian Bond from Michigan

Some beautiful wool from Coco Chanel, a CVM X Australian Bond from Michigan

Herdwick and CVM (dyed by American friend, Colleen)

Herdwick and CVM (dyed by American friend, Colleen)


And, of course, being welcomed home by the producers of all that lovely fiber!

"And, where WERE you all that time?!"

“And, where WERE you all that time?!”

It’s good to be back!





Published in: on June 6, 2014 at 4:33 am  Leave a Comment  

The (Sheep) Faces of France – Adieu

It is time to say farewell to another wonderful wool sheep adventure. We learned so much about French and other sheep breeds during the 8th World Congress on Coloured Sheep and the post-Congress tour.

I feel the best way to wrap this up is to share the faces of these sheep. After all, that’s what it’s all been about: learning about programs to save endangered or rare breeds, getting a better understanding of sheep color genetics, meeting people who are working so hard to increase the value of the wool of these sheep, learning how sheep can truly benefit the local environment and economy.

We saw sheep resting….














And just being the truly amazing creatures they are.








Adieu mouton.


Published in: on May 29, 2014 at 4:47 pm  Comments (1)  

Ardelaine Wool Program and Last Felt Inspiration

The last couple days were not as full as the trip winds down. On Tuesday we wound through the Ardeche mountains to arrive in Saint Pierreville where the restaurant where we ate lunch had felt art on the wall. Always a good sign!



The highlight of the day was a visit to the Ardelaine program. It was begun 30 years ago by five friends who wanted to convince the farmers to produce better wool and that, if they did there would be a market for it. At that time, wool was being thrown on the manure pile as waste. These friends brought in shearers and separated good wool from bad and then farmers began to understand that they had to change what they were doing in order to get quality. Today, from 250 owners they shear 50,000 sheep a year.


So, where to begin to sell this improved quality wool? They decided to start with mattresses and we were invited into see how they are made.


With 70 tons of wool collected each year, they are the only “short circuit” (direct sell) organization in Europe. When the shearers are through shearing for the season, they come to join some other employees making matresses.




If you look under this table you will see a mirror. This is so she can see where the long needle she is using comes through on the other side – inventive!


Wool mattresses are very traditional in this area but had almost disappeared because of the de-valuation of the wool. Today they make 1000 mattresses per year.

They keep a few sheep here as part of an educational exhibit. I think one spotted one looks familiar!



Besides having the sheep to help educate the 20,000 people per year who visit, they have created this amazing mechanical diorama (i don’t know what else to call it). It is the scene of a whole village involved in wool processing.


The play begins by introducing the shepherd and his sheep and, as each new figure is introduced, the spotlight moves to that scene and movement there begins. I can’t do it justice as a still shot.


Those of you who work with wool may be able to tell what is going on in the few scenes I am sharing here. I could have watched the story unfold several times over!





This was a very interesting visit and we came away with new appreciation for the inspiration and hard work that is creating programs such as these and, maybe, even learned a few secrets about wool!


On our last day of the tour we needed to get from Lyon back to Paris, a several hour trip. To break it up, we stopped for a visit at a very historic hospital in Beaune. It was founded in the 1400s and, since the 1970s has been a museum showing what care was like during this time – much more advanced than most of us thought with even the first women pharmacists!

The highpoint of the visit for me, however, were the tiled roofs. The tiles have been restored over many years. Some are 100 years old but this varies. The clay is from this area and they are 32 cm long, 2 cm thick and each one weighs 2 kilos – very heavy when you get them all together on a roof! But so pretty. I think this may be another felt inspiration!



With a quick visit to a very colorful little market outside of the hospital/museum, we load onto the bus one more time as our tour heads back to Paris.


Published in: on May 29, 2014 at 3:14 pm  Comments (3)  

Bon Appetit!

Who knew the food and wine in France would be so wonderful and we would eat so much?

Jackie has invited me, Dona, to guest-blog the food and wine experience of our trip.

Most days our tour provided two large, multi-hour meals starting with an aperitif or a glass of champagne.



As the salads arrived, both red and white wine were put on the table.



Salads were a meal in themselves. One salad Jackie didn’t care for, the creamy cheesy tomato yogurt-textured one. So I ate two.




And bread was always on the table.


By this point, we are an hour into the meal having had the apertif, a big salad, multiple glasses of wine and multiple pieces of bread. We are full and out comes the main course (most main courses were lamb or fish but their vegetarian meals were excellent, too).



Dessert next? No! Then out comes the cheese platter and more bread. Keep in mind the wine is always flowing.


Two hours into the meal out comes the truly wonderful dessert.



Only one dessert in eight days was questionable.


Here comes the coffee.



Lunches were served from 1 to 3 PM and dinners from 8:30 to 10:30 PM.

Since this is really a Wooly Adventures blog, it would not be complete without a sheep eating. The French hay must be as good as our meals were from the look of these enthusiastic eaters.


Published in: on May 28, 2014 at 8:51 pm  Comments (6)  

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