September 9, 2014

Dorset-With And Without Horns

Filed under: Sheep Breeds — by ellenspn @ 12:00 pm
Tags: , , , ,

P7070003  Sunshine at last!

I am combining these two as the Poll Dorset was developed from the Horn Dorset. The fleeces should be very similar so I’ll have fun keeping my samples straight.

To quote the Oklahoma Livestock Breeds site

“Both horned and polled Dorsets are an all white sheep of medium size having good body length and muscle conformation to produce a desirable carcass. The fleece is very white, strong, close and free from dark fiber. Dorset fleeces average five to nine pounds (2.25-4 kg) in the ewes with a yield of between 50% and 70%.  The staple length ranges from 2.5 to 4 inches (6-10 cm) with a numeric count of 46’s-58’s.  The fiber diameter will range from 33.0 to 27.0 microns.”

The origins of the Dorset breed is fuzzy at best.  However the poll Dorset is a widely popular breed for those raising meat.  It’s down-like fleece would think this breed originated in the Downs of England, and while there is a Dorset Down breed, these breeds (both the horn and polled) are separate.

Horn Dorset are quite scarce as it just plain easier to manage polled sheep.  The polled gene popped up spontaneously in the gene pool of the Horned Dorsets within the United States and proliferated thanks to the help of North Carolina State College, Raleigh, NC .

September 5, 2014

Dollclothes, what Dollclothes?

Well, that was a farce…I never even made one outfit.  I got sucked in by some slick marketing speak and almost spent a ton of money on stuff that I can’t use.  I’ll still make some clothes for my niece, but nothing fancy like what I was trying to do.


So I’m sticking to fiberarts and dog training, what I’m good at.  Right now my concern is with Danny.  He is weak and fragile.  I don’t know how much longer he will be with us, but I’m trying to make the best of every day.

Tomorrow I’m going to Wisconsin Sheep and Wool.  I hope to see Beth Smith and some friends from Ravelry.

April 3, 2014

I Am Not Lost!

Just a bit distracted. Life has been hectic to say the least.  I’ve been through the loss of a job, being unemployed over the holidays and finally have landed a marginal job.

Marginal enough that I really want to get my Etsy store revitalized and revamped. In addition I’m adding a second venture where I’ll be making historically based doll clothes for 18″ doll clothes.  It finally gives me an excuse to buy an American Girl doll.  So if you are interested in that go check out my new blog at and sign up for my newsletter.

Also I am setting up a newsletter for my Etsy store.  For right now you can go here to sign up for it. I am working on the next breed to cover and I’ll be back in the saddle soon.  But first I have to get all my ducks in a row.

September 9, 2013

Santa Cruz-A Rare Fiber Among Rare Breeds

Santa Cruz was quite the adventure. First of all I have to thank Jennifer Heverly from Spirit Trail Fibers for sharing with me some Santa Cruz fiber. Seriously, I never thought I would get my hands on some.

However I lost these samples in the depths of a bag somewhere. This has delayed me. Then I misplaced the bag of the rest of the fleece….sigh, excuses, excuses.

However, this past weekend I got some more from Deb Robson during a rare breeds class at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool festival. So I’ll share my samples spun here.


The locks are tiny and the staple length is short. Very short. I do believe that this is the shortest wool I have ever worked with. We are talking a 1″ staple length for the locks I got from Jennifer and 2″ from Deb. I’ve spun shorter fibers, but not wool.

I felt best about combing the fiber, however spinning worsted is not the best way to show the properties of this wool. Perhaps because it gave me the cleanest yarn. Combing 1-2″ locks is no picnic.


Carding was easier but you can see the vegetable matter. Neither of these fleeces were kept with handspinners in mind. One reason is that handspinners have not gotten their hands on it yet.


If more spinners out there would seek out these fibers I believe they would find them more forgiving than cormo with a 50% elasticity for carded fiber. But right now the fiber I have is best combed than carded due to the vegetable matter.

Now to just find that bag if Santa Cruz I misplaced….

Last weekend was Wisconsin Sheep & Wool. I too Deb Robson’s Rare Breeds class on Friday, watched fleece judging and bought fleeces on Saturday and then bought more fleeces on Sunday! Fleece was certainly the theme for this year.

I also spent time with Sara and Hans of The Woolgatherers trying to be helpful. I taught one person the park and draft method of spindle spinning and helped her choose a spindle. Most of the time though it was hot and I worked to keep myself hydrated.

Best of all I’m spinning again on this:

Yes that’s a Hansen Minispinner in cherry wood. Yes I sold a wheel to buy this one. No I did not sell one of my Reeves wheels.

I’ve decided that Shiloh needs to learn to retrieve. Not just retrieve dumbbells but shuttles. So I’ve started training him to do that. A little at a time

May 29, 2013

Dear Jane AKA The New Epic Adventure

I’m certifiable.

Buts lets start at the beginning. A weekends ago I went to the Bonnie Hunter seminar in Ottawa, IL. If you ever get a chance to go to one of her seminars and you are a quilter do it!

However while there I saw this.


Bonnie is currently quilting her THIRD Dear Jane quilt.


I was smitten. The pieces are small, but not as small as the Granny Nannies I have been foundation piecing and if I can paper piece much of it I’m sure that I could make my way through it.

Then my dear friend Teresa dealt the final blow. If I work on Dear Jane, she will pull her stuff out and work on hers. Well then Georg echoed that. Plus Georg is hand piecing hers.

What else could I do?

I now have my book, the software (which I consider a necessity), 8 yards of beautiful Jo Morton background fabric as well as a bunch of fat quarters that are civil war style. Teresa is waiting on a new copy of the book to arrive, which is a saga to itself. I think she decided to make it in blues and yellows. It’ll be very pretty.

In other things, my dear little Adam sheltie got his NW1 title from NACSW on his 4th attempt.
Adam 05
He’s such a good little sheltie.

Masi and I attempted NW2 for the first time and came really really close to qualifying. We even managed to locate the interior hide that stumped many more good teams. I know that he is ready for this level. We will try again in July.

Do I attempt the Tour De Fleece this year with my wrist and tendon problem? Good question. I have a month to mull it over.

In the mean time I’ll be sewing. Maybe on this.


May 14, 2013

Getting Organized

Filed under: Quilting — by ellenspn @ 10:10 am
Tags: , , , , ,

The first thing that struck me about quilting was the amount of waste fabric created.


Pieces from the fat quarters that were too small for the project but seem too wasteful to throw away. I never just threw away leftovers and I often spun my sample spinning fibers. I just knew that there had to be other like minded people out there.

Enter the world of Quiltville which is Bonnie Hunters fabulous website. She has written 4 books on scrap quilting and offered numerous free patterns on her website. I am currently working on Blue Ridge Beauty and using thrift store men’s shirts for them.


I strip pieced them an now using them as leader/Enders for the rest. I get to have a workshop with Bonnie this weekend and I’m So Excited!!

However I’ve had a slight distraction from quilting.


I learned how to modify sewing patterns. Thank you Craftsy. I took the most excellent Plus Size Pattern Fitting & Design taught by Barbara Deckert.


I made a paper tape dress-form and made a first attempt at a blouse for the class.


Just made of forgiving Kona cotton I don’t love the fit, but do love the color. I’m going to make it over again but this time in grey silk and work hard on the fit.

I also made myself a denim jumper for wearing around the house.


Now my brain is focus on making….a bag. But who would not want a bag in happy sushi patterns!!!


March 19, 2013

K9 Nosework, Craftsy, And Time With Adam

I don’t talk a lot about Adam. He’s my little sheltie. I got him to show in agility, rally and conformation. None of that has happened. He is a very sweet but fearful guy. He didn’t like Ribbon until she was almost 6 month old and he realized she was a GIRL. If Shiloh is upstairs, he is downstairs but heaven help me if I take another dog to the basement to train.

Adam 04

We started K9 Nosework with him shortly after attending the first seminar. It’s been slow going. He doesn’t work well in strange places. His first NW1 trial was horribly hot and he only managed to pass the exterior hide.  He did a good bit better at the July Burlington trial passing 3 of the 4 elements despite it being hot as well.  I really had high hopes for the Joliet trial last fall, but strong winds made things just a bit too scary for him.

Adam 05

My dear little dog.  I know he is ready to pass all 4 elements, and he’s proven it having passed all 4 elements at one trial or another, but he still hasn’t put it all together yet. Even Ron Gaunt says he is as ready as he can be and hope for the best.   I’m so lucky to have Adam, he’s taught me about patience and persistence the way that Masi can not.

On the craft front, I’ve been working on this Civil War era quilt for a Craftsy class.


Blocks are all sewn now and the next part was to piece the sashing between the blocks.  Unfortunately this is a class for people who are not quite the beginner I am.  After struggling for a while I finally gave up the thoughts of piecing the sashing and am now adding plain strips to the edges of the 12″ blocks to make them 14″ like the two larger blocks and will put a solid sashing and border around the blocks.


How large the quilt will end up I’m not sure, but I’m looking forward to finishing it and no Mom it’s not for you.  There are too many mistakes in this to ever consider giving it to anyone!

My carpel tunnel is still flared and the rally trials really did a number on my tendonitis so I’m still looking forward when that will be all healed and I can get back to spinning!

March 15, 2013

First Trial With A New Partner

Well, I’m still not spinning. Still having major pain issues with carpal tunnel and with my Achilles’ tendon.

This week was Shiloh’s turn to debut in rally. Poor guy didn’t know what to think.


I put him in CWAG’S so that I could treat him as we went along. Well, easier said than done. He got lots of treats though. He was concerned, looked around and tried to look under the ring gates at another dog in the other ring.


Heel position was only a suggestion for him. However under their rules he did quite well. Out of 4 runs he qualified 3 times.


The larger ribbons are from Ribbons qualifying run. I’m very proud if my cute puppy.

I’m very proud of Shiloh. He has gone from a neglected dog tied up in a backyard to a performance partner.


March 7, 2013

A New Trail And Baby’s First Dog Shows

My ankle is still messed up. And the result of this I’ve not been weaving or spinning. Add to this an additional flare of carpel tunnel syndrome means I’m looking for things to do that are not my usual hobbies.


In steps quilting. Easier on my wrists and plenty challenging to my limited sewing skills.


First issue was to get the featherweight set up and determine what other machines laying around here were functional. The old Singer my aunt gave me is dead it needs new nylon gears. One machine is MIA in the garage, somewhere…plus I have 2 Kenmore machines. One the feed dogs do not move, the other needs a serious cleaning and a new belt.
So in the mean time I bought an inexpensive Brother at the encouragement of a friend. I’m really liking the machine. It has niceties that I’m not used to. Drop in bobbin, self threading, embroidery stitches plus it came with both walking foot and a darning foot. The walking foot worked nicely quilting a doll quilt for my little niece.


Perfect colors for her. Like her aunt she is into pink.

Now I can focus on the civil war quilt for my Craftsy class. I’ve finished the blocks and now for the pieced sashing.


Last weekend I took Little Miss to her first dog show. My goal was to make sure she had a good time.


Well she floored me. 3 legs out of 4 runs for her Cyanosport Puppy Rally title.


This girl is destined to do great things.

December 5, 2012

Loom Music With A Bit Of Ribbon

My looms have been more active than my wheels.


I used some Wollmeise lace yarn to weave a stole.


The jury is still out on how I feel about weaving with Wollmeise. It acts like nothing else I’ve woven other than really coarse rayon.
I’m waiting for a painted warp to show up to make some presents even though I’ve wound this warp.


It’s to weave part of the massive amount of Shetland yarn I spun over several years. Nothing fancy planned just a goose eye twill.

On other news. Shiloh continues to demand one on one training. I’m trying to train all the dogs, well except for Danny who gets cookies for just breathing. As a result Ribbon is getting some serious training.


Since she has been a tiny puppy we have been working on K9 Nosework. What this has created is a bold puppy who has no qualms about counter surfing and grabbing stuff and running amok. It’s also trained in her persistence and work ethic. Now I need to train a proper tucked sit. Yeah I know she’s how old and I don’t have sit on cue.

Isn’t she cute bouncing around there :)

Luckily she is cute and I haven’t strangled her yet. I have registered her with APDT Rally but don’t expect to show her in the puppy classes. She’s at my least favorite phase right now. This too shall pass and be just a fond memory. Much like Adam taking off with the 18 micron alpaca roving when he was a puppy.

So as as we steam ahead to the holidays we with everyone a peaceful holiday season. Merry Christmas from the herding crew, Jerry and I. I can be found either behind the loom or in the basement, training dogs what else!

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