What’s Happened Here?

So much time has gone by….so much that I can’t summarize it all. Let’s just say not quitting my day job, my brief venture into Amazon was a financial flop. It is now time to get back to the root of things. Fiberarts, what I’m passionate about.

I’m currently watching fellow fiber vendors turn to additional ventures or retiring. What happened? The economy is booming is a large part of it. Does that mean people are not spinning or weaving? Absolutely not!!!!

On a different topic, I sold my Hansen and my Haldane and bought The Device. I have also sold my Lendrum and three looms, including my Baby Wolf. Eventually I’ll replace the Baby Wolf with a narrow counterbalance loom, maybe a Glimakra Julia. But first I need to clear out my spinning room.

Confession du jour: I cannot close the door I also have so much in that room I cannot get to the back where my drum carder is. So either I spend all the spare minutes of my day spinning for the next 50 years or sell something soooo I’m still deciding. I have stuff from Southern Cross fibers and Enchanted Knoll when she was still dyeing. Plus some dyed cotton, some alpaca, mohair locks, and mystery wool. I think Ravelry will be the best way to go that way it can go in the stash with photos. So if you are on Ravelry my userid is ellenspn. I’ll be adding things for days I’m sure!

I think this is still available I’ll have to check.

Yes I’ve had it that long. And we are dog friendly here.

Speaking of dogs last July we lost Grady to cancer. He was sweet as the day was long though and always a good boy.

Before we lost Grady this character came into our lives. Introducing Smokey who I may show in conformation. Still unsure about that.

Also both Ribbon and Shiloh earned their NW3 Elite titles. Ribbon in 5 and Shiloh in 6 shows. Masi is now retired to countersurfing and fence running and he’s much happier not being dragged around strange dogs.

Hopefully we will get back to our regular scheduled series again. But in the mean time check out my current offerings on Etsy at http://www.emsketsfiberworks.com


I am grounded for a while. The past month hard been full of doctors appointments, imaging, and K9 nose work.  


Here is Ribbon and I after our First NW2 attempt. She did beautifully me not so much. But managed to pull out a third pace in exteriors. Plus My friend Sara ran her for me and got her Level 1 exterior title. Yeah!

Here is Masi and I after our successful first NW3 trial. I cand believe he did it on the first try. I’m still on cloud 9.  

The one thing in common with both pictures is I have a walking cast on. Well back in March I fell and ruptured my Achilles’ tendon. Yesterday I had surgery to repair it so I’m forced to elevate my foot, unable to maneuver steps and dealing with pain. 

Before all this mess I have been working on expanding my offerings at Emsket’s Fiberworks. Slowly I’m adding needle felting.   I’ve received a few inquiries so have added a few basic items so fat. Plus I’ll be adding roving in amouts specifically for needle felting and a few kits. I’ll be testing some drop spindles as well. 

So let your needle felting friends know as we work to bring the best fiber to you. And dont forget to sign up for our newsletter at http://www.emsket.com. 

Woolen? Worsted? What the???


So you are sitting at your wheel and you have a hank of fiber in front of you. Do you just start spinning?  Let me ask you to wait and think about a few things first. 

What is your goal for this fiber? Are you looking for warm hat, hard wearing socks or are you just spinning to spin?

Spinning just to spin is fine. It gives you a chance to play with techniques and relieve the stress of everyday life. 

But if you have a project in mind then your choice of spinning will affect your results. 

Let’s first talk about what woolen and worsted spinning is.   Think about them like they are two end points on a line. 

With woolen spinning your preparation needs to be either random order or semi random like a rolag and your drafting zone is longer than the length of the fiber. This produces a ply with more bounce and a structure that helps trap air. 

Worsted spinning uses combed top that is very ordered and uniform length for the individual fibers.  The drafting zone is less than the length of the fibers. This produces a smooth, compact yarn that incorporates little air in its structure. 


Now those are two extremes. Between these is what people call semi-woolen and semi-worsted. Most fiber preps are not truly uniform or random. Cotton spinning is a great example. Cotton is spun woolen but the fiber prep is usually a sliver which is closer to worsted than woolen prep. 

I would not fuss too much about if you are spinning just to spin and relax. However if you are spinning for a project you need to pay greater attention. 

Some examples of projects that are better suited to worsted spun yarn include socks, woven suiting and lace. Woolen spun for hats, some scarves, and woven blankets that are fulled. 

Of course there are exceptions to the rules such as my woolen spun Shetland/Shetland blend shawl and warm bed socks made of alpaca. 



Once again, these are not hard and fast rules, and when you are outside the sphere of europeon influence these constructs are not discussed as such. But I find them a useful guide to making the right yarn for the right project.  

I Never Thought…

I’ve been in shelties for about 16 years now. I’ve ran agility, raced Flyball, performed in obedience, searched in nosework, and strutted in Rally Obedience with Luke, Daisy, Ribbon, Adam, and my most titled dog Danny. But now Grady has come into my life.


Last summer I got the idea that I would like to try my hand at conformation. I looked around and and realized the only showable dog I had was Adam.


Adam was my victim for the fall. Adams goal in life was to lay in the couch. Me dragging him and doing dog sports was never his idea. He tolerated nosework and managed to earn his NW1 title after a lot of work. Conformation was the two of us bumbling together, training in our basement and showing in United Kennel Club (UKC) and International All Breed Canine
Association (IABCA). He earned his IABCA Companion Championship but only ever beat one dog in the ring for a UKC Veterans Best In Show. Our journey was cut short by the finding of a suspicious lump that turned to be Fibrosarcoma that cost him a rear leg. I consider us lucky, Roo, Luke and Daisy all succumbed to what was most likely cancer.

I was emailing Adams breeder about his last show when she replied that I needed a younger, better dog. Turns out Grady had become available. Now Danny is over 15 years old, long retired, Crazy Ribbon who is very immature, the two Aussies along with Adam. I didn’t need another dog. However, Grady fit into the household like he had always been there.

Grady had to wait in the wings while Adam had his surgery, Danny was sick, and I switched jobs. Now we have started working together and he’s gone to his first UKC shows.

In four straight shows he went Best of Breed four times. Placed in the Herding Group three times with a 3rd and two 1sts. Those two first places were our tickets to the Best In Show ring. While we didn’t place there it was such an honor to just be in the ring! When the dust settled he had more than enough points and wins for his championship. UKC does not seem to keep track of the total number of dogs of all breeds you beat, but it does keep track of how many dogs of your own breed you beat. I’m still fuzzy about the details, but it appears Grady also picked up 4 “Top Ten” points.

We will continue to do UKC shows this year at least and see about me learning to actually groom him so he looks good in the ring. Then we will see about showing him in American Kennel Club (AKC) shows. Showing at Westminster is not part of my personal goals. My eye is set on attending the American Shetland Sheepdog Association (ASSA) Nationals in 2017 when it returns to the Midwest.

An Elizabeth State Of Mind

Elizabeth Zimmermann wrote a little book back in the 1970’s called Knitters Almanac.

I bought it while I was in college and at some point in my life decided to knit my way through the book using my handspun.

So I’ve made the Fiddle Faddle, the Baby Shawl, some of the hats, and even the April Mystery Blanket.

So what’s left you ask?

The Longies and the Sweaters.

All the sweaters….

2015, Oh Hello!

Wow, it’s 2015 already and where have I been?  Well spinning some.


And using my Christmas present from my mom, a new embroidery machine.


It’s very cool. And a nice machine with built in Disney designs. I plan on making gifts with it. No not yet another business idea. This machine is too slow to consider any type of business venture.

And it’s time for me to focus more on my Etsy shop. I’m sticking with Etsy for now as it does bring in traffic. But there are tons of farms and dyers out there on that platform I need get out there and actually market myself.

So 2015 may be the year of doing. Assuming my job situation stabilizes and I can focus more on fiber stuff.

Dorset-With And Without Horns

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 http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/sheep/dorset/

“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 .

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.

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 ellenelaine.wordpress.com 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.