Years ago, when I edited Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot, I learned of Lithuanian textiles through weaving, by way of work by Antanas and Anastazija Tamošaitis and by Kati Meek and an awareness of the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in Chicago (SS&D Summer 1986). Lithuania is one of three countries tucked into the curve at the eastern end of the Baltic Sea, along with Latvia and Estonia.
Late last year I received an e-mail message that I answered personally, but I haven’t had time for blogging in a while (as some may have noticed), so this inquiry and my response didn’t get shared. This morning on Twitter I was asked for information on cruelty in shearing, which led me to find my previous blog post on the topic and to pull out that December 2014 message and my response to share here. I was going to write a blog post this morning on a different topic. Perhaps I’ll have time early next week to get to that one.
EDITED March 7, 2015 to add: Felicity Ford’s KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook is now one of the wonderful books (including Kate Davies’ and Elizabeth Lovick’s and more) available in the U.S. from Meg Swansen’s Schoolhouse Press. I’ll link here to the “new books” page where you can currently find them. Thanks to M.C. for letting me know.
Sorry there’s been such a gap in posts. I’ve been washing fiber and writing up information about sheep and llamas. I’ll be back.
Having met Felicity Ford and also watched her in action at Shetland Wool Week last fall, I was predisposed to like the book that she had just embarked on making. That book has just become available (in both print and electronic formats). Backing Felicity’s Kickstarter for the book didn’t require any thought at all. I knew what she would make would be worthwhile, and worth having, because Felicity is one of the most creative and intelligent people I’ve ever met (plus one of the most unpretentious).
I’ve gotten swept away in preparations for the two Shetland-wool-specific retreats that I’ll be facilitating in the San Juan Islands of Washington State during the first two weeks in November. There’s a lot to do: the fact that I enjoy the activities doesn’t shorten the hours required to complete all the related tasks. Fortunately I have help this year with a number of the administrative details, so I can focus on the wools and the plan and the written materials.
Nonetheless, the intervals between my blog posts have gotten stretched out again.
Here’s what I think will be a quick post, about some of the yarns and fibers that I “met” during my recent travels in Iceland and Shetland.
For reasons why the blog posts are getting farther apart, check out my newsletter (of which there will be a new release soon, but this blog post comes first).
Up over the top
After learning more about winter housing of sheep, we got back into our mountain-ready bus and went up over the Icelandic Highlands. There are reservoirs providing hydroelectric power, and we were told there are also mountains and glaciers and gorgeous views.
After Icelandic sheep are brought down from the mountains, those that will be wintered-over spend some time in pastures closer to the farms. Counts of Icelandic sheep are always given in terms of the winter flock, and thus do not include the lambs (that number would be almost three times as large, because many Icelandic ewes have twins—the breed’s lambing rate is 170 to 180%, or higher). Wintered-over flocks range in the hundreds up to a thousand or so sheep.
So: keeping sheep inside—how does that happen? As part of the North Atlantic Native Sheep and Wool Conference, we had the opportunity to see one of the largest and most modern winter-housing facilities, constructed several years ago by a farmer named Christian. As with many of the events, catching folks’ names was difficult. While I got many questions answered there, I have even more now—and if anyone who is reading this was there and wants to supplement or correct what I’m saying, you’re most welcome to do so!