Category Archives: spinning

Sheep Shearing in the UK

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Following on from my previous post – the video of shearing a shetland sheep in USA – I thought I’d add a couple of my old photos of sheep shearing, taken about 30 years ago!  I can’t remember where I took them – somewhere in South Wales.

 

 

These are scans of the A6 sepia postcards I published of the original photos – which is why they aren’t very sharp.  The sheep were being sheared in a field, and they were penned to make it easier to do the shearing as quickly as possible.

I did a search for shearing in the UK, to get a bit more info on when shearing is done here, and found this useful piece, oddly enough, published under the name of Sheep Shearing in the UK by Indie Farmer.

 

 

These are a couple of colour photos from that site.

And this is the first part of the blog – written in July 2014

The sheep shearing season in the UK (roughly mid May to mid July) is pretty much finished now, so farmers will be pleased that one difficult and time consuming job is over for another year, and the sheep will be happy to have got rid of their thick fleeces in this hot weather.

Shearing requires both skill and a lot of hard, physical work in hot summer conditions.  Some farmers shear their own sheep but many, especially those with large flocks (anything over a few hundred sheep) hire specialist shearing gangs to do the work for them.  Shearing gangs typically have three to eight members, and travel the country going from farm to farm, shearing every day during the season.  It is a hard life but pay can be good, about £2 a sheep and a good shearer can shear 200 sheep per day.  When the UK shearing season is over, the shearing gangs often travel to other countries where the shearing season is at a different time of year, in what is known as ‘the shearing circuit’, travelling from the UK to Norway, the USA, the Falklands, New Zealand, Australia, and pretty much anywhere that you can find plenty of sheep!  It is a very tough, hard working and hard drinking lifestyle, but it’s a good way to see the world, have fun and make some money.

Wool used to be where the main profit was in sheep farming, with meat as a useful sideline.  Many of the great Cathedrals and castles of the middle ages were built using the profits from the wool trade.  The Lord Speaker in the House of Lords still sits on a ceremonial Woolsack to represent the importance of wool to the economy in former times.  Now, however, sheep farmers make their main profit from meat, with wool being a very minor sideline.

It’s always useful to know a bit more about where your wool comes from!  Especially for spinners who are carding and spinning the raw fleeces!

PS. PLUG!

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pair of standard hand carders – 72 pt

I sell hand carders that can deal with raw fleeces and all types of wool fibres – and also are quite useful as brushes for sheep and other animals if you are tidying up your stock for Agricultural Shows.  The current listings can be found if you click on the links below.

Listed on julzcraftstore.com here

USE THE COUPON CODE  customer10%off  at the checkout to get 10% off your order.

Listed on etsy here

Listed on ebay here

Sheep Shearing Video

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Just thought you might like to see how sheep are sheared – for those of you who’ve never seen it!  Shearing is done very fast, and doesn’t hurt the sheep, if it’s done by an expert – and the fleece is rolled up to be processed and, hopefully sold.

This video comes from a farm near Niagara Falls, New York, who actually specialise in Shetland Sheep.  Shetland Sheep are the smallest of the British sheep breeds. They are bred for their wool, which is very soft and fine, a delight for handspinners. Shetland Sheep are very hardy, and easy to care for. They are ideal for families with smallchildren, handspinners and breeders.

The original post can be found HERE.

 

5%offOPENINGcelebration – your coupon expires on 28 March – use it now!

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blackshopcardJust a reminder that I am offering a 5% discount for ANYONE who places an order on my new retail website

JULZ CRAFT STORE

An Eclectic Mix of Craft Supplies, Gifts and ……

please click on the link above to if there’s anything that you might like!

Your coupon – 5%offOPENINGcelebration – can be redeemed at the shopping cart.

I SELL WORLDWIDE!

 

Wishing you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR

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Isn’t it nice to arrive into 2018!  Well I think so anyway.  Last year was extremely disruptive, what with the landslip, and being evacuated from my house, and having to virtually camp in my new home, as the building work still hasn’t been done.  But things are getting better, and I am slowly sorting things out, and have great plans for this year – smile – which I feel strangely confident about.

So here’s to 2018, and hoping it goes well for all of us.

In the meantime, I just want to let you know that

my “twelve days of christmas” sale ends at midnight (uk time) on 3 january – thats tomorrow! 
 
there is 10% off all listings in my Etsy Shop
new etsy banner

this link will take you there

Tomorrow, I will get back to the series on the Twelve Days of Christmas Carol – next up is 6 Geese a-laying.

A couple of free xmas knitting and crochet patterns you might like

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Courtesy of Sheila Dixon’s Hand Spinning News for this month, I thought I’d pass on these FREE patterns she found!

strick-muster-Nikolaus-Stiefel-knit-pattern-Christmas-socks-013-3-1100x1100This one is to knit your own Christmas Stocking.  Of course the pattern is free because you are supposed to buy the exact wool from the German (I think) company that is giving away the pattern, but, as the final size is not all that important, I think you could easily use any 2 ply wool combinations, especially if you have spun them yourself.  The pattern on the socks is apparently Latvian.  You can find the pattern HERE.  You have to fill in a form to get it, but it is FREE!

The second free pattern is for making this rather interesting leaf garland.  If you crochet you will find it very easy – if you don’t, its worth having a look because there are very full instructions on how to make each piece, and you could probably make it yourself anyway!

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You can find the instructions on Lucy’s blog here, and the overview and background info HERE.  If you do make it, let her know, I’m sure she’d love to see your version!

For my Readers, all over the World – a re-blog of “Winding Yarns into balls by hand”….

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nostepinne woundI’ve been checking my stats recently to see how many people have been visiting the blog and where they come from and what posts they are reading – yes I can tell all that with one click!  (But be reassured, I can’t tell WHO it was, so you’re secrets are safe – smile)

I can honestly say that my readership is WORLD WIDE!  I think I have had readers from almost every country in the world – lots of you are, of course, from the UK, but almost as many are from the USA, and all over Europe, and recently quite a lot from Australia, China and India.

I’ve noticed that, apart from my post about the Ystalyfera  Landslip,  which someone else must have publicised on social media, without telling me – (over 100 hits in one day!) smile – the most searched for post is this one: Winding Yarns into balls by hand – with or without a nostepinne which is also listed under the i/sheets tab (an archive of my ‘information  sheets’ or free tutorials – which I haven’t kept up to date lately, by the way!)  And by now,  you must have realised what that picture on the right is doing on this page.

Anyway, to save you the trouble of looking for it,  I thought I’d just repeat it here for those of you that are interested – and as I have only just sold the last nostepinne I had, and wasn’t actually going to buy any more in at the moment – this is NOT a sales ploy! (But do have a scroll down to the previous post – smile!)

Originally posted in August of 2015 – 

HuH – I can’t find a way to copy the whole thing after all, but this is the most important stuff – especially the video!

This is a very useful tutorial I found via Sheila Dixon’s Hand Spinning News, which has a video that takes the mystique out of how to use a Nostepinne, or any useful stick, to allow you to wind hand spun yarn, or just oddments of wool into tidy balls, manually.

It is copied directly from Roving Crafters – she calls them “cakes” – and she says on her blog that it can be freely copied – so I have!

How to Hand Wind Yarn Into a Cake

Winding warn cakes Confession #1:

I like to wind yarn. Its fun. Its an excuse to play with my yarn and when I wind up other knitters’ and crocheters’ yarn (I’ve been known to do that) I get to play with their yarn too. But its more than just play time. A nicely wound yarn cake will save you headache and frustration and make for a more pleasant knitting and crocheting experience.

A yarn cake sits flat on the table. It has a nice easy end to draw out of the center. If its done right, the yarn won’t tangle up and the cake won’t flop or bounce around. A yarn cake as a great and wonderful thing and nearly every yarn shop in the world will wind up your yarn into a cake with their ball winder.

But you don’t need a ball winder to make a yarn cake. You just need a stick. A dowel will work. So will a broom handle, a fat knitting needle, or the empty tube from your next roll of toilet paper. If you want to be fancy-pants about hand winding yarn, you can get a nostepinne. But only really hopeless yarn-geeks bother with those.

Confession #2: I own three nostepinnes.

I also own a ball winder but sometimes I make yarn cakes by hand and not just for fun. If I only have a small amount of yarn, say 50 yards or less, I wind it into a little cake using a small nostepinne thin stick. That works out much better.