In which I ramble a lot about wool - Tactical Ninja
Nov. 29th, 2010
09:31 am - In which I ramble a lot about wool
I woke up this morning to vapour in the atmosphere telling me the beautiful run of weather is nearly over, and the news that there's been another explosion at Pike River Mine, and that the mine is now on fire. That makes four explosions, with the latest being the biggest so far. They are hoping that the fire is just in loose coal dislodged by the previous explosions, in which case sealing the mine will starve it of oxygen and eventually put it out. If the fire is in the Brunner seam (which is huge) it could burn for years, with or without oxygen. In Strongman 2, another West Coast mine, an underground fire burned for eight years before Solid Energy was able to put it out.
This does not bode well for the recovery of the bodies of the 29 dead miners. It's just been blow after blow for their families and everyone else following this, and now there's a very good chance that those men will never come out of that mine. There's a bit of my mind that thinks this is somehow apt, even though it's also horrible.
Because while I've been deeply *something* by the Pike River thing, I've seen enough death this year and I'm not dead, I'm alive, very much so. And to live as if I weren't would be a disservice to those who aren't.
So. Saturday. For The Kid, it was somewhat of a baptism of fire, those being the toughest sheep on my run. They're polwarths, which is a breed made up of about 3/4 merino and 1/4 lincoln. Honestly, I have no idea what the people who came up with this mix were thinking. Merino:
Super fine (16-25 micron) white wool, only grows about 4 inches/year, small sheep, fine skin, covered in wrinkles, suitable for dry conditions.
Very strong (33-41 micron) vari-coloured wool, grows 8-15 inches/year, world's largest sheep - mature ewes should weigh ~80kg - and as the name suggests, they are from Lincolnshire in England and bred for English conditions.
Two more different breeds of sheep you couldn't imagine, yet someone decided to cross them and it worked. Polwarths have all the good qualities of both breeds - long, fine wool, large frame, wide grazing capability, thrive in a variety of conditions, the list goes on. They are lovely sheep - if you're a farmer.
If you're a shearer they are hard work. They aren't as wrinkly as merinos but they have a dewlap and wrinkles round their bums and just to give you an idea, I shore a bunch of perendales on Tuesday without cutting a single one. This flock, every single sheep had a cut. It's pretty much unavoidable with these things. In addition, the wool is so dense that the comb tends to ride up out of it and it's work to keep it on the skin and push it forward. Trying to push the comb, do a tidy job and avoid cutting them slows the process down and on average it takes me 1/3 longer to do polwarths than any other breed, so I'm bent over for that much longer. And they're heavy! But in their favour, they are very placid and don't flail around even when they are being cut to ribbons. ;-/ And they really do have lovely wool.
You don't get photos because I'm not proud of how they look off the shears, ever. Their owner has been breeding polwarths for years and she's quite happy with the job I do, but .. I'm not.
Anyway, yesterday I was a bit broken from all the extra bending over and pushing, and possibly a bit heatstroked too - it was 29 degrees in the shed (yes, they have a shed omg no shearing in the sun!), and there was sweat raining off my nose for most of the afternoon. So I decided to stay indoors and hide from the sun while finishing Weaving Project No 1.
It's done! Finally! I am pleased - I spun the wool, wove the cloth, knitted little sheep legs and face, latch-hooked the wool bit (also from handspun wool), then sewed the whole lot together. The lining is a bit of leftover lining from the matrix coat I made for Dr Wheel. I had to buy the googly eyes, but the total cost of materials for this is about $7. And it has sheep! ;-)
And in it is this:
Which is what I spent the rest of the day doing. It doesn't look like much but that's about 300g of the wool that's going to be used for Secret Project #7 (which I can finally start now I've spun the wool for it). You will get to see it eventually but till it's done and gifted, it's a secret. Also, that chocolate coloured wool is absolutely lovely to work with. Yes I'm going into raptures over fondly fibre. Sue me.
Part of me wants to go back out to Michelle's and grab one of her polwarth fleeces just so I can say I've taken the wool from the sheep to the garment, completely. And because she has nice wool. Hmm..
(At this point I got a bit lost in a site about sheep breeds. It's utterly fascinating. To me. I like border leicesters)
The parcels have started arriving! It's exciting, even though none of them are for me.
So yes, I had an accomplished weekend. And the weather was absolutely stunning. Even the cat went outside. ZOMG.