September 30, 2016

New Beginnings and the Sheep Blanket Challenge

It has been a long time since the last post on this blog. Facebook has become the new instant "go to" site and blogging seems to have lost followers. Everything does have its place though.
Many things have happened in my life since the last post. Kids and sheep have kept us busy and new hobbies have taken hold. The horses are down to two and with both at 25 years of age are in retirement. I am in the process of launching a new business to sell wool products made from the fleece from our sheep. Spinning has been one of the constants as a lifesaver and playing with natural dyes has been a new fun experience.

Now for the Sheep Blanket Challenge................
About 8 years ago I found this really cool pattern on Ebay for a knitted sheep blanket.
It is called the Counting Sheep Warm Wooly Blanket by Gitta Schrade.

I loved to look at it and pondered trying to make one but it was so intimidating and required SO MUCH yarn. Time passed and eventually I thought why not try it. I had saved some natural colored fleeces that I thought would work and looking at the pattern changed some of the colors for what I had to work with. (This was about 3 1/2 years ago), I started washing fleece and carding it into roving. I figured out how many yards I thought I would need and started spinning when I had some spare time and the weather was too nasty to go outside. All the yarn was spun to bulky weight 2 ply except for the golden brown which was a single Navajo plied into a 3 ply. All the colors were the natural color of the fleece except for the golden brown which was a gray n/c fleece overdyed brown. The yarn was spun on the Fricke wheel and some on the Ashford with the jumbo flyer/bobbin. All the yarn was spun from fleece from our Romney sheep except for the black which was from a 1/2 Romney/1/2 Merino ewe lamb fleece I bought from my friend Anne Nichols, a fellow Romney breeder. Here is a pic of some of the yarn

The yarn was spun and the knitting commenced in March of this year. I started with the panels first and it was slow at the beginning but got faster as I figured out the pattern charts. I knitted the main colors and to avoid long floats went back in after blocking each block and over stitched the legs on some of them.

Knitting and sewing blocks together in progress
Blocks sewn together waiting for border
After the blocks were sewn together I worked on the garter stitch borders. I ran out of the cream yarn and had to spin another 200 yards to get them finished. Borders were blocked and sewn onto the panels and the blanket was finished.

I decided that the blanket needed a pillow to go with it so that was done too.

I entered the blanket and pillow in our county fair and won Superintendent's Choice! That was awesome and made me brave enough to enter them in the knitted division of the fiber creations for the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby, OR this past weekend. I was surprised and greatly humbled for receiving the honor of winning Champion at OFFF. I love this blanket and it turned out much better than what I ever thought that it would.

What am I going to do with it? Not sure at this point. I am going to sign and date the back of it though. The next challenge................ Well, I have another pattern that is actually a cross stitch wall hanging of different breeds of sheep. I might try to convert the chart to knit and see what I come up with.

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