Seaweed and Rare Sheep

 New colourway "Skara Brae" on North Ronaldsay blend tops

 

What an exciting week !

Very early Monday morning (I actually at first thoughr it was Sunday..lolol) we got a rude awakening because someone lost control on the super wet road, and crashed into our letterbox after swirling all over the place before finally wrapping his car around a medium big tree, luckily missing huge big trees and out our big gas tank. All in all, a very lucky escape for all parties (except the bunny letter box which was catapulted into Paul’s car). After making sure the driver was okay, his mum picked him up and the tow truck took his car away, I spent the day carding the last of the November batts and Paul did all the packing so every club parcel was shipped off early Tuesday morning.  I was absolutely knackered and I didn’t even crash into something! Lol

I have to come clean about something else as well : when I had my cardiac arrest in 2019, I hit the kitchen floor so hard that my right hip and back sustained some damage. I of course kept on going since my heart was the main issue and had to get that fixed, but ever since that faitful day, my back and hip is extremely painful.

Again, I keep on going, but I am now at a point that I am experiencing pretty high pain levels on a daily basis. I need to take some time off to take care of this soon and I think that will be after the 12 days of Christmas for a couple of weeks. More will be announced later of course, but both Paul and myself need to “regroup” and have some time to relax.

I have no idea what, how , where yet…lol   But, before we all get to that point, lots and lots of things are getting done !

The November clubs were shipped out last Tuesday and the December clubs are getting their paint job right now ! I have published a post with a teaser on my social media today, but just in case you missed that : here are the photos:

 

 

This painting is absolutely mesmerizing !  There are so many colours that on first glance are clear cut so to speak, but they intermingle with each other and the perception of them changes. There are so many hues and tonal values in there. Its not a rainbow of colours. This is by far the hardest painting I have ever tried to capture because of this. I hope I can do the artwork proud!

I am planning to get all the December clubs out to all the club members around the 25th of November so all the club members will receive their parcels before Christmas. Australia Post has announced that the deadline for any overseas parcels to be received before Christmas is November 29th. For Australian customers it will be December 14th.

The Club sign ups are open on the IxCHeL shop. The New Art Journey clubs are starting up again in January 2023, with loads and loads more inspirational art works translated onto yarn and fibres. Please let me know if you have any questions about the clubs or if you would like to have a combination of either yarn and fibre or all three types of the clubs: yarn, batt and fibre club or if you would like all three month’s clubs sent together to save you on shipping, especially when you are overseas so you save on shipping costs.

Now, what is NEW this week? A freshly blended and dyed Rare Sheep Breed blend !

 

Today's update is all about a very special rare breed sheep on the Scottish Isle of North Ronaldsay.  

 

 

 

 

The North Ronaldsay Sheep are the only animals in the world, aside from a certain Galapagos lizard, to be able to subsist entirely on seaweed, leading to its nickname ‘seaweed sheep’.  The breed is thought to be over 5000 years old. The breed is farmed within the Northern Ronaldsay Islands, Orkney and kept nearby the seashore for most of the year. In 1832 the Laird of North Ronaldsay decided that his pastureland should not be wasted on native sheep and a dyke was built round the island to keep them on the shore and off the land. It was most probably this separation that resulted in the preservation of the North Ronaldsay, as it prevented cross breeding which had been the downfall of other Orkney sheep.  

 

The North Ronaldsay is one of the Northern Short tailed primitive group of breeds that also includes the Manx Loghtan, Soay, Shetland and Icelandic .  The North Ronaldsay is still mainly found on its native island, the northernmost of the Orkneys. The sheep keeping system on North Ronaldsay is unique and involves a stone wall which keeps the sheep on the seashore and away from the cultivated land for most of the year. This wall was built in 1832 and since then the breed has evolved to survive primarily on seaweed. The sheep live on the seashore most of the year around and are only  brought onto the better land for lambing.

 

The North Ronaldsay is one of group of primitive Northern Short-tailed sheep and represents a very early stage in the evolution of domestic sheep. DNA studies have shown a close relationship to sheep found in the Stone Age village of Skara Brae on mainland Orkney, which dates from 3000 BC. In 1832 a wall was built around their native island to confine the animals to the foreshore for most of the year in order to conserve the inland grazing. Since then the breed has developed its distinctive metabolism due to its diet of seaweed, which also renders it susceptible to copper poisoning under standard sheep management systems. North Ronaldsays are very sensitive to copper and will die of copper toxicity if put on the wrong type of grazing. This is due to their seaweed diet and the unique metabolism they have evolved.  They should not be fed commercial sheep mixes as despite the label saying “No Added Copper” the normal ingredients used will often have a background level high enough to be toxic (ten parts per million is too high). The North Ronaldsay is capable of  surviving on less than larger breeds and is an active browser, used to ranging over long distances in search of food.

 

 

Colours of their fleece are variable: including white, various shades of grey, black and moorit (deep brown). The double fleece has coarse outer guard hairs and a fine soft inner coat. I have never ever felt and dyed something as extraordinary as this sheeps fleece. It is springy, almost feels moist even after its scouring and washing. It almost feels like it resists the dye when you pour the pigments on and everything immediately flows to the bottom, leaving the top layer of the fibre springy and almost without dye. At least, that is what appears to happen…it takes the dye beautifully and retains its springy texture and openness.

Before dyeing and  spinning though was the rather painful process of getting rid of the guardhairs !  Here’s a view of the raw fleece :

 

 

After all of the cleaning and carding and blending you get what I am offering you today !

 It is a dream to spin and work with. You can make a yarn that is strong and still soft to wear. It is very very special !  There are only about 600 of these seaweed sheep left in the world. Only through our effort of conservation of the environment and conservation through appreciation of this rare breed by spinning and knitting its fleece, can we hold on to one of the oldest and most special breeds in the world alive today.

There are also new Tibetan Support spindles available from Lair of the Bearded Dragon AND some super special ceramic spindle cups and bowls as well ! 

You can check everything out in the what's new section on the IxCHeL shop by clicking here. 

Have a fantastic weekend filled with lots of creative fibre fun !

Big hugs,

Charly

 

 


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