Black Sheep

Liz Willis and Jim McRae of Buzz Cut Shearing in Pittsford Vt.  Liz has been working with Jim since she’s 8 years old.

We got the sheep sheared on Saturday.  I have four bags of beautiful wool to be processed.  Ma’s wool will go in the garbage, she’s still a big sheep, but no longer looks like a bear.  I was surprised at how black the wool is closer to the sheep’s bodies. (except for Zelda, of course).  It’s really beautiful and without their wool, the sheep look so different. (really very cute)  Now I have a flock of Black Sheep, except for Zelda, the white one, but she becomes the ‘Black Sheep”  metaphorically.  It suits me.

I already ordered sheep suits from Rocky  Sheep Company.  These are jackets to put on the sheep to keep the wool from being bleached by the sun (that’s why the wool on top is brown and the wool closer to the skin is black) and to keep it clean from burdock, hay, etc.    Everyone I spoke to recommended them.  They were really friendly and  helpful on the phone.  I’ll change the suits 4 times throughout the year as the sheep’s wool grows.

I was concerned about getting the sheep shorn in the fall, but I was assured by the shearer that they would be fine as long as they had shelter. (which they do)   Also, their wool grows back so quick, they’ll have a nice coat before it gets really cold.

I’ll be taking the wool to a mill in Brandon Vermont, Mapleview Alpacas.  The pricing for having the wool processed is a bit confusing to me, they charge by the pound and of course I have no idea how many pounds of wool I have.  But they can have it for my by April, which I’m finding is pretty quick compared to some other mills. I’ll skirt the wool (which means cleaning the it of burdock, hay, feces, etc) then drop it off.   I’m planning on having some of it made into yarn and some of it made into roving.  I also have to make a decision about what ply the yarn will be.  I realize this part of it will take some time to figure out depending on what people want and how

So that’s were you come in.  If you think you might want some yarn, just let me know.  If you’re interested in roving, also let me know.  Like I said, this is going to be a process, I’m figuring it out as I go.  So come along if you’d like.  I’ll keep you updated.

A sheared Zelda and the other sheep checking out Ma
Ma’s wool coming off
My flock of black sheep after shearing

11 thoughts on “Black Sheep

  1. I’m definitely interested in purchasing roving, Maria! And I agree, I always loved to see my sheep newly shorn! They were always so frisky when they got rid of their heavy coats!

  2. HI Maria, thanks for all the updates at this busy time – now you have a new angle to your business with the wool. I have just started spinning so I like to buy roving and spin it myself, so not much help on the info for what type of yarn to get. Regarding Ma’s wool, you don’t have to put it in the garbage, there are several ways to reuse that scrapwool for outdoor projects – firstly it can just go in the compost heap, makes a great winter mulch on your flower beds, is also a fantastic liner for hanging baskets, or plants in pots.
    Sorry to read you had to leave your main work table behind in the old studio – can’t Ben, who seems to be able to work out how to fix anything, help you with a way to remove the table legs so you can transport it through the doors, then put it back together in your new studio? That looks like you’ve got it well organised already – love your multicolored yarn wound round that niddy noddy, and all the fabric on view on the shelves. Looking forward to future updates, Hannah

  3. Does a black sheep only produce black yarn? I cannot imagine that they can dye that, but I have no idea. I would love to buy a few skeins for knitting – just for the awesomeness of it!!! 😉 XOXO

  4. I’ll be interested and watching to see what kind of roving and yarn you end up with. Might want to buy some of one or the other if I have any money left after moving. Well, I know you can sympathize with me on that problem !!! I think I would like to get some roving in the future to practice on my beginner wheel. Great look to the new studio. Bet you will be churning out some wonderful stuff there. I’ll be thinking of you as you push though the storms. Hoping that you have little or no damages and all air breathing critters on the farm come out the other side the same way they went in.

  5. Will you be posting the availability of the yarn and/or roving on your site when it is ready? I am a knitter and a spinner and would love to see the finished product and would be interested in purchasing either. I love these types of fiber products more than the mass produced ones. I saw the photos of the raw fleeces and they looked beautiful. Are the sheep a specific breed or mixed? Plyed yarns are stronger also there are many different thicknesses from a very fine lace wt. to heavy, bulky yarns, depends on what the mill produces. Do you knit or spin. Also love your quilts.

    1. I do know how to knit but haven’t in years Nancy. I find that I don’t have the time and when I do have free time I would rather spend it doing something less closely related to my work. I used to weave too, and loved it, but it’s the same with weaving. When I have the wool and roving available around April I’ll be posting photos and let you all know what I have available and how much it costs. Thanks for asking.

  6. I guess this is where I need to let you know that I am definitely interested in purchasing some yarn. Sorry to bother you with emails.
    Thinking of you all tonight as the storm gathers….

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