Pantheon Community

Greetings from Kelly Bell

Sorry I waited so long to make one of these… I’m a drupal lover, obviously, and huge Pantheon fan. Also I am a shepherd - an actual one, as in I live on a sheep farm in western Washington in the foothills of the Cascades close to Mt. Ranier, after living in Brooklyn for many years. I was raised early years on a farm in Texas though so it’s not quite as weird as it sounds… I love my sheepdog and work partner Breoghan (“briggan”), and aside from my webdev life I do a lot of fiber arts work - spinning and dyeing my own yarn and then weaving and knitting stuff with it. It’s lambing time, starting literally today, so I likely won’t have time to write much for awhile after today for a couple months. But I wanted to say hi to everyone and try to catch up with y’all in the new year. Yay 2021 and a new world!!!

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Hey Kelly! Thanks for saying hi! Your sheepdog life sounds amazing.

I know we have quite a few fiber artists here at Pantheon who would LOVE to see your stuff when you have time between new lambs. :laughing: Paging @carolyn @hallienew @Kaylan for fiber fun. :yarn:

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Oooh we should start a Topic here on fiber arts and go crazy! (Idk when, exactly, this craziness would ensue, since I know we are probs all busy as very busy things, but…). It would be way fun

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@hallienew has entered the chat :crazy_face:

Always love hearing about others’ fiber work! Would love to see your creations, Kelly!
I’m a knitter, but I am thinking about trying weaving again and have been very interested in punch needle creations as well. So much fiber goodness!

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Hi Hallie! I’d love to hear about your fiber projects! Post some pics when you can? I’ve never gotten into felting really. I’d love to hear about your experiences with it though!

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Welcome Kelly! :wave:

We are super excited to have you here! I also lived in Brooklyn for a short period of time—Park Slope area! :slight_smile: I am soooo fascinated to learn more about your experience as a Shepard! Maybe you can share a little more with us all sometime?

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I’ve been here since the group started I think (hasn’t it been well over a year now?) I’ve just been lurking like a very bad lurker. Sorry about that. I always worry about boring people out of their minds bc I will go on (and on and on and on) about the sheep, and the wool, and the fiber… if you indulge me even a little bit. So you have to promise not to let me make a complete fool of myself.

We are starting lambing season right now so I’m waiting on pins and needles around the clock for those babies. My home is actually built inside the barn, so on the other side of my bedroom wall I can hear those tiny voices meeping (or rather, meh-eh-eh-ing) at their moms. They tend to birth in the wee hours, like wee do… in fact, sheep are surprisingly similar to human ladies in all things birthing related.

The name of my farm is Ovis Aries Farm (a very unimaginative pun), and there are pics on Facebook. I just finished building the house but there are no pics there for security reasons. There are some lamb pics from years past there though. I’ll try to post some of this years’ lambs here for you guys, as they’re born. It’s hard to take pics of squirming lambs by ones’ self though, even with the timer function lol!

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@hallienew, one great thing about weaving (like felting, I imagine) is that you can weave the tiniest to hugest projects, as looms come in every possible size. I love weaving those little 4” x 4” sample swatches - especially doing the “breed studies”. Those are just the best, bc then I’ve started with the raw wool, processed and spun the yarn too. I think those are such a great way to get ones’ feet wet with the whole fiber process from beginning to end!

Speaking of weaving little samples…

In fact, that’s my “Fiber 102” class for anyone who’s interested (“Fiber 101” is just “play with fiber”): Buy the “Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook” (the big one), then buy at least 8oz of raw wool of any 50 breeds to start (not washed or processed in any way if possible), making sure you source from all the different types - longwools (Romney, which I raise, Bluefaced Leicester etc), double-coated primitives (Shetland), hair sheep, fine wool (Merino), medium wool (black-faced breeds like Suffolk - great for socks bc they don’t felt!), etc.

The first author of this book is my hero - Deb Robson. She’s a huge advocate for rare and heritage breeds and a world class teacher as well. Not to mention an amazing person. I am not worthy!

Anyway, back to the breed study. Next steps: wash, card, spin, and weave / knit 4” x 4” samples for each breed, taking careful notes and attach little tags to each sample with all the data to each sample. KEEP YOUR NOTEBOOK with the samples somewhere safe for future reference. This is the most informative and rewarding fiber project I ever did (I did it for 100 breeds, which is traditional, but it can be hard to find 100 breeds of raw wool these days), and I’ve heard many others say the same. These are a treasure worth more than gold…

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See, I told you I’d go on and on and on…
waiting for lambs into the wee hours

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I just peeped your lambs on FB and they are sooo cute. I’d love to see some of the yarn you spin! I’m currently working on a knit blanket for my daughter, but I’m using cotton yarn to make washing easier. My next project will be finally knitting my first sweater (I’ve been on a shawl kick lately) and learning to steek (eeeeks!) which should be fun.

I may get my loom out one of these days and take your advice on making a smaller project just to get used to the process. It seems fairly intuitive, at least for beginning bits. So fun hearing your fiber passion shine through. Send snuggles to your sheep from Philly! So nice to “meet” you.

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Shawls are great projects - it took me years of knitting other things for some reason before I made my first one and I was so sorry I’d waited - I didn’t know what I’d been missing. I love knitting them! Here are a couple pics of projects. These are all from my sheep, so they’re either from white sheep whose wool I’ve dyed or they’re natural colors I’ve overdyed or left their natural “sheep colors”.

I breed what are called “blue Romneys”, and am way nerdily (predictably) into the color genetics behind reliably breeding for fleece color. Believe it or not, it’s only within the last 10 years we’ve been able to do this, and my flock came from the shepherd responsible for the research in the US which got us here (Margaret Howard of Tawanda Farms). It’s a big deal, to be able to reliably produce, from a marketing perspective, especially if your farm has a rep for producing rare, high-dollar naturally-colored wool!

This is a pic of the “blue Romney” wool coming off the sheep (who believe me, she is happy to be rid of it!)! None of the images are retouched.

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I mostly spin what’s called a a thick and thin singles yarn, because that’s what I like to knit and weave with myself, under the imprint YARNSPOTTING. I had big plans for an expanded line however, once upon a time. I don’t do much retail anymore because I don’t have anywhere near enough time to keep up with demand. I know how awful that must sound so pls forgive me - but I once was on the train to Rhinebeck (a big fiber festival in upstate NY) and had some skeins like these pictures with me, and they were all sold before I got off the train. That was a real come to Jesus moment for me. I really love doing this and I didn’t want to ruin it by turning it into a job, you know? Also, this industry has REALLY taken off since then (it’s been about 10 years), and competition is such that always chasing that “next new thing” just doesn’t appeal. Plus, I don’t have the production elves to help me do it :wink:

But who knows - one day, it might come back. Or some part of it. I think separating the “yarn from my sheep in natural colors” from my dyeworks needs to happen, at least. I’m thinking of all kinds of little schemes - 4H projects - opportunities to teach farm kids (especially young women) about marketing through this company, for example. I just need some help, and some time. Now that my workshop / house is finished, I can finally get on with it!

@hallienew, have you tried using superwash merino wool for your baby blankets? It’s soft AND wool AND washable. If you want to make wool socks that aren’t for a baby but are still washable, you can always spin some yarn from what I call “nature’s superwash”, Suffolk sheep wool. Suffolk’s are a medium-wool sheep mostly bred for meat in the US. But their fleece is different than longwool or fine wool sheep, bc it doesn’t readily felt, which makes it perfect for making things like SOCKS! It’s not that soft, but it’s plenty sturdy! I’ve had great results and it’s really fun to thumb your nose at the regular superwash, which sells for a premium and they’re plenty snooty about it too :wink: (plus most of the merino comes from Oz, not the US, if you care about buying American).

Oh, Hallie… don’t say you weren’t warned! Y’all should’ve never encouraged me - you’ll never get me to shut up now… ugh how embarrassing…

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Love it!!! This is really great. Thanks for sharing.

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@hallienew you are too kind

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Holy cow sheep! That color is incredible!

This whole thread has shown me how little I know about fiber & fiber arts. Thank you for letting us all get a glimpse into your world! :heart_eyes:

You’re way too kind, Tara. Next time there’s a BadCamp session on wool, I’m your (clearly crazy wo)man!

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