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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Sheep words

Today it's sheep words in my mind, so think about these:

There is rambunctious, rampage, ramble, ramification, rampant, cram, and trample -- yup, those describe male sheep.

Then there is lambast, clamber, flamboyant -- and those words certainly pertain to lambs.

Next there is beweary, chewed, and strewed, chewer -- all describing ewes, and I am not even going to discuss the word-plays like unusual.

And then there are the random words such as bellwether and crook.

Or there is the description of Shepherd's Pie as "hash covered with mash." (What?? 
You have never tasted Shepherd's Pie?? It's a ba-a-a-a-nquet).

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Year the Spinner's Flock Began

For any number of reasons, docile heritage-breed Tunis are the perfect small farm, small flock desert sheep. But with a number of requests for additional breeds to provide local wool for spinning and yarn, 2016 turned out to be the Year the Spinner's Flock Began at Woolhalla Tunis.
Mistress Quickly and Barbara Ann, a California Red.
First, we added Mistress Quickly, a yearling pure-bred Cotswold who needs shearing twice a year! Those lovely, lovely curls offer a great medium for felters, dollmakers, spinners, and others. They wash up beautifully and are so extraordinarily silky soft. The rasta hair just adds to her personality, although now after being sheared, she has acquired a rather Punk look!

Feeling good about our success with Mistress Quickly, we next opted for a bred Cormo ewe and a Cormo cross Merino lamb. Tassie, the Cormo, is bred for February lambs, and Toffee the cross lamb is a really luscious creamy toffee caramel color that comes from her Merino dad who carries a moorit (or brown/red) gene. Cormos are a Corriedale/Merino cross, so that means our Toffee is genetically 3/4 Merino and 1/4 Corriedale, which equals fantastic wool possibilities with the color as an added bonus.

Tassie, named for Tasmania where the breed was created.

Our girl, Toffee, joined us from Prescott Valley


 So what's next?  We don't want to add too fast because there are so many factors to consider. First, we will be careful to have only the number of sheep our farm will support. We purchased the property in a very degraded condition and don't plan to let that happen again. Second: all the sheep have to get along together: maybe there are considerations between breeds and individuals that we will only learn by careful observation. And third: we have to have a market for the lambs and wool because the flock needs to make a healthy stab at paying for itself. And there's a different spin on things!


When you think of sheep, places other than Arizona likely come to mind: maybe Montana, Wyoming, or Idaho in the West, and possibly Vermont, Maine, or Maryland in the East. But sheep are everywhere!  The Boss was working near Utah's Capital Reef National Park this week and snapped this great shot of sheep grazing in pastures irrigated by great rolling wheel sprinklers.

Sheep grazing near Loa, Utah, just outside Capital Reef National Park

Here in Arizona there are sheep from the high elevations of Flagstaff to the Red Rock Country of northeastern Arizona where Navajo Churros are right at home to the deserts of southern Arizona where Tunis sheep and other breeds thrive. As a matter of fact, last year Tempe Yarn and Fiber showcased a Fiber Passport for spinners which documented spinning a different breed of fiber from each of the 15 counties in the state! Now in 2016, we are taking that same commitment and moving our local fiber from the warehouse into as rapidly as possible so that artists who cannot make it to (the brick-and-mortar side of things) have access to this same great diversity of Arizona fiber and yarn, as well as the same attentive personal service Tempe Yarn has provided for 11 years. They mean what they say: "We aren't just a store, we are a community!"

Currently there are fiber and/or yarn from six breeds available in the online shop, but there is the potential for literally a couple of dozen more! Please keep checking back to see what we have added. And there's a different spin on things!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Here is a preview of a new pattern from Elusive Designs.

This Cowl was designed to show off the 3 ply Bulky Yarn which was milled and spun at Mystic Pines Fiber in Williams, Arizona.  The lovely squishy yarn was spun from Woolhalla's California Red fiber and is for sale at Tempe Yarn & Fiber.

The cowl took two skeins and can be worn in several ways.  Watch here for the pattern that will be published soon.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

My Visit To Woolhalla -The Farm At The End Of The Road

I really love how expressive her eyes were.   All the sheep were so curious as to why I came into their lovely home. Sally however, insisted I pet her and was very happy to let me bury my hands in her beautiful wool.   I can't wait till shearing time and the opportunity to spin some of her contribution to my stash. 

Woolhalla Sheep Chowing Down

You can almost see the wonderful wool growing.