Saturday, January 27, 2007

Rare Breed Sweater - The Shetland Row

Is there such a thing as a knitting klutz club? If there is, then I'm a member. Or perhaps I have the distinction of being the founder. I've been busily knitting away on my Rare Breed Sweater, highly motivated to get it done. I'm on the right front now and have finally finished the first row, the Shetland sheep row. Not without problems however. First I discovered that I started the sheep legs on the wrong count, and then discovered I'd dropped a stitch about 20 rows back which threw the whole thing off. Talk about feeling like I'm spinning my wheels and getting nowhere!

Anyway, here it is, unblocked and rather rumply; photo taken while my helper was catnapping.

My friend Anne in Canada tells me there 11 main colors of Shetland sheep, with 32 variations. These all have Gaelic names to distinguish them. However, I had three colors to work with, enough to fill a row; two ewes and a ram (with the horns.)

My knitted ones started as commercial tops which were simply called black, moorit, and grey. The moorit came from Paradise Fibers. The black and grey came from Woodland Woolworks. At the time I ordered them, this was about all the color choice available via commercial retailers. Tina has since give me a link to the North American Shetland Sheep Association. I have this bookmarked as a future resource.

My Shetland tops were lovely to spin and lovely to knit. Perhaps someday in the distant future I can collect and spin all the colors. I would love to knit a Fair Isle vest or sweater with them. However, my project list is long, so don't expect this any time soon. :)

Related Posts:
Winter Knitting Project
Rare Breed Sweater Swatches
TA-DAH! Rare Breed Sweater Done!


Sue Bleiweiss said...

oh I wish I had your talent with a pair of knitting needles!

Kathy said...

WaHoo! Shetlands! Now, Leigh, you should have put the word out as I'm sure between all of us Shetland people reading your blog would have happily made sure you had all the colors you needed! But do you have enough arms, legs, and other body parts to pur ALL the Shetland colors in the sweater?

Hugs from the SW and MY Shetlands!

Leigh said...

*lol* Actually, I would probably use all the colors in a Shetland project on its own. I love color and all the natural variation. Nice to know I have so many Shetland friends out there. I think Shetlands are one of the loveliest breeds there is.

CS said...

Glad I'm not the only klutz among knitters. Welcome to the club! Whether founder or just member, all are welcome!

On another topic from a few posts back, do you always wash a woven item before using/giving/etc?

Leigh said...

Good question. Yes, I wash everything I weave. Some things more than others. It all falls under the category of "wet finishing." For things like cottons it's important for shrinkage before the cloth is used. For the huck, it actually brings the pattern out. I wet finish rayons, synthetics, and wool too. Usually I soak and agitate a little depending on the fabric. This not only helps all the individual threads shift into place, but actually softens the fabric which has been pulled tight under tension. A good rule of thumb is to wash the fabric the same way the finished project will be washed. So for the towels, they went through a full wash cycle and a full dry cycle.

Cathy said...

Wow, you're almost done with the sheep! I know in the beginning you said you were a slow knitter, but it seems like you're moving right along. It really is such an impressive project!

Sharon said...

I love your little sheepies. We have four Shetlands wethers and four colors. Not only do I love working with their fiber, they are such agreeable little animals.

Anonymous said...

Love your sweater. I was told by a local knitter. A very proficient knitter about frogging, that "It's all part of the process" so now when I start back pedaling I remember her words "It's all part of the process" and I feel better.

Leigh said...

Thank you for that Mary! It's comforting that a knitting voice of experience goes through this as well. Sometimes I think my problem is that my ideas are beyond my capabilities. Othertimes I just think my mind is too busy to pay attention properly. Either way, I won't give up.