Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Poor Cuthbert: a sheep with an abscess

My poor tup Cuthbert has been in the wars these last few months and on Sunday I found that he has a big abscess on his jaw.

When I fetched him home from his wanderings, he had a puncture wound on his jaw which was infected but I treated it and it healed over... or so it appeared. On  Sunday it was suddenly huge and hot to touch. Poor Cuthbert had rubbed all of the wool off it.

Luckily with some help from my friend Elle and some Animalintex, I was able to put a poultice on it and bandage him up. Now I just have to keep replacing with clean dressings and wait for the poultice to work its magic. In the meantime, I'm not sure that Cuthbert is convinced about his new look!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

A Fleecy Experiment

Since these February days are cold and dark still, I decided that I would use my indoor time productively by doing something with my fleeces which have been safely stashed away but rather neglected.

I decided to use Sheilhope Girlsta's beautiful moorit fleece and took it home from the stables to process it. It looked lovely spread out on the driveway and I started by taking a quarter of it, washing and drying it before sitting down to decide how to use it.

I was about to card Girlsta's fleece when my mam, who was sitting nearby said, "won't you loose all of those lovely sun bleached twizzly bits if you card it?"

I stopped and looked at the wool. Shetland wool naturally forms little spiraled tips at the end of each "staple" which is the name given to a lock of fleece. It was really beautiful varying from rich chocolate brown at the root to bleached blond at the tips, but the staple formation is also very technical and is key to the Shetland sheep being able to survive on those wet windswept islands. Rain falling on a Shetland sheep is wicked to the ends of the staples and drips off the twizzly tips and in this way is kept away from the sheep's skin, leaving it warm and dry. It would be a shame to loose such a characteristic feature of my sheep's wool.

"Could you spin your wool so that those little twizzly bits stick out?" Asked mam. I could try this but I'm not the greatest spinner nor knitter sadly. Much more practicing to do.For now I decided to stick with what I know: needle-felting jewellery.

First I had to pull out all of the nicest twizzly staples.

Then I carded the remainder.

I made a bracelet as usual but then needle-felted the twizzly staples around the outside. I'm rather pleased with the result, perhaps I'll make a load more and sell them!