Since moving to the smallholding I wear a lot of hats, literally and metaphorically!! I have a few favourites…
My lattice hat, knitted up in a gorgeous sock weight alpaca yarn I bought on the Great London Yarn Crawl, my River Knits yarn hat, which is a gorgeous sock weight yarn and I knitted a super slouchy beanie hat in it!
More recently I have been knitting up hats for a few people around here and using double knit yarn!
This one is knitted in our hilltop blend and it is rarely off the farmers head at the moment!
I have also been finding the boy’s hat strewn about the place…. this one was found out by the stream in the last cold snap frozen solid!!
Once a month I am going to tell you the story of our sheep and how we came to acquire them!
First up is our first sheep on the smallholding, Wanda. She is a Beulah Speckled Face sheep, which you can see more in later photographs.
Wanda turned up in the lane and on our yard just before I had Mati so three years ago next month. She was scared, alone bedraggled and very, very thin. We managed to coax her into our barn, but as we had sold all our hay bales that year we couldn’t keep her in there for long. Plus the barn was still a bit filthy from having been loaned out to a local farmer.
We called everyone we could think of and then a few more, trying desperately to find her owners. I sent a photo to a local lady who works for animal health and she came out to see her once we had put her out into the field.
She would come running for a bucket of feed and we managed to have a look at her ear tag numbers, which the lovely lady ran for us, to no avail as her last home recorded was on the English borders!! A heck of a long way from here! She also noted on her visit that Wanda was at least 4 years old having no teeth, and at some point recently had had scab. The scab is a notifiable disease but it had been treated, so we were warned to be watchful of her and to not let her out of the field, unless the owners came. Wanda was particularly not allowed to see other sheep until we were certain the scab was clear.
So she stayed in the field, and we put up signs as instructed. Then after 14 days she became ours…. so we got ourselves a flock number and became sheep keepers, easy we thought…..
After the 14 days were up Wanda decided she did not like the solitary life she was leading and tested every single fence, gate and hedgerow on a daily basis. She got out more times than I care to say! Remember at this point I was heavily pregnant with Mati and shouldn’t touch sheep and this continued till I had Mati in a sling for our round ups. She tried joining flocks in both of our neighbours’ fields.
We walked the lanes pretty much daily with a bucket of feed to round her up and bring her back. She happily followed me and the feed anywhere, but it became exhausting. One day we thought she had completely gone forever, as it took us walking halfway down the track that goes through the valley to the next village and part way back up before she heard me and came running for the feed. This last one was a mile and a half of walking, which doesn’t sound much, but just after having a baby, losing a scary amount of blood post birth…. still being paper white and having a toddler to wrangle along the way as well as babywearing it was enough.
We went round all the fences, gates and hedges and tried every field. Eventually we found a field she couldn’t escape from. The relief was immense! We had also in the meantime been speaking to a neighbouring farmer who kept sheep. He had a spare ewe…. and offered her to us as a friend for Wanda to help her settle into the fields and maybe stay put! Finally the friend for Wanda arrived in May 2018, but more on her in a later post!#
Wanda by May was fattening up despite her long walks…. and her fleece was growing back. The scab was completely clear. She was a very confident sheep, didn’t mind Sookie the dog (to be fair Sookie the neurotic spaniel was more afraid of Wanda!) If Will got too close and over enthusiastic then she would head butt him and put him on his bum!
These days, at probably about a minimum of 7 years old, she is still the most friendly sheep, coming running to sound of my voice. Greedy when the bucket comes out, happy to be hand fed by anyone and not fussed if she muscles in on the horse nuts too! She is now shorn every year, wormed regularly and has to have lots of hoof trims as her hooves curl in all sorts of directions! She could live to be 10-12 years old, but some live to about 20! She is certainly stubborn enough to manage that! She helps to coax some of the more nervous ones over with her enthusiasm, but also doesn’t like too many others crowding around her. She will liberally give out head butts if the mood takes her. I love her attitude!!
She is one of our bigger sheep and produces a great huge soft bouncy fleece every year! It sure makes some wonderful or should I say Wanda-full yarn!
If you fancy a bit of Wanda wool head on over to the Etsy shop, anything with Rustic in the name has Wanda fleece in!
One of the most popular yarns in our online shop are our sock weight yarns. We have several bases, Smooshie (the silk, wool blend) Sock (superwash BFL) Stardust (the one with the sparkle) and now we have the Rustic sock!
Rustic sock is spun up from our own sheep here on the smallholding at a local mill and then dyed here on the holding ready for you to knit into the perfect sock weight project. Rustic sock is the little sister of the Rustic DK. It is the same blend of Llanwennog, Beulah and Welsh white and is a gorgeous bouncy yarn that just drinks in the dyes. It knits up pretty darned nicely too! (though I am not at the stage of sharing my projects in it just yet!)
Last Friday I released the first two colourways in this base Dragon’s blood and Deep Blue Sea.
These two colourways are just gorgeous, deep, semi solid, and this yarn would make a super comfy pair of socks for walking. A shawl or scarf to keep your neck warm or a slouchie beanie hat to keep the frost off your ears!
This week I will be releasing a few more colourways in this yarn!
Winter Skyscape, Wooded walks, Oer (pronounced oi-r rolling the r
slightly, which is Welsh for cold)
Crafts from the Smallholding on the hill
For all our beautiful, sustainable Welsh yarns, in a range of vibrant colours
This Wednesday I am going to look at a pattern or two from another source!
I am currently knitting up the fabulous Arboreal sweater by Jenn Steingass (this link is in Ravelry, I am afraid there are no other links I could find where she sells the patterns outside Ravelry)
I am knitting it up using our Rustic with alpaca base which is currently up in the Etsy shop. I am using the natural beautiful grey base colour, a small amount of cream from the Rustic range and the Gentian for the blue.
It is knit up from the top down and all the colourwork is in a yoke around the neck. Beautiful leafy patterns!
The yarn is knitting up beautifully, Roger at the mill puts a lovely twist into the wool and it really is turning into one of favourites to knit with. I am also loving the combination of the natural grey of the wool with the hand dyed Gentian colour way.
True to my form though, as this knitting is for me it gets left to the bottom of the list, so was put aside for all the Christmas knitting and put aside for the custom orders….. but I plan to get back to it at least one night a week now and keep some progress going!
Jennifer Steingass has many many beautiful yoked sweater patterns so I hope this is my first of many! In fact logging into Rav has set me off again and I now rather like the Forestland sweater….. Sooo many patterns sooooo little time…..
Still on the go we have the Hazels shawl…. which I seem to be taking forever to write up let alone chart….
And the Hive shawl, which is nearly written (honest mum!! 😂😘) which need blocking final photos and a trip to the tech editor!!
I am also now working on a range of foraging and smallholding inspired patterns!! Mushrooms, more leaves, animals and even a hedgehog set of patterns which will be released to raise money for our local hoggie hogspital who nursed our beautiful Holly so well!!
I have knitted up some fabulous sweaters for the boys using our beautiful rustic with alpaca yarns!!
You can see which one is more impressed at the photo shoot for his new jumper!!
The yarn is a gorgeous blend of next to skin soft yarn!! And the colourways lend themselves beautifully to colour work patterns and these yoked sweaters, the Diplodocus sweater by Kate Oates is perfect for my two dinosaur enthusiasts!!
We have all sorts of colours sure to please your dino lovers too!!
He really does love it! Just didn’t want to take photos 😂🥴 Here are the colours we have available in the Etsy shop!
Two 100g skeins of our pure Llanwenog Aran weight yarn
A professional grade dye specially blended for you, in two colours and you can choose the base colour, and either a tonal or contrasting colour!
A full set of instructions helping you to get the effect you want from your own hand dyed yarn!
A perfect gift for a knitter or crocheted for Christmas to give them a taste of creating their own unique yarns!!
The yarn is a gorgeous pure Llanwenog yarn, from the sheep here on our holding. These sheep grow enormously bouncy fleeces and we take them to a local mill, literally a few miles up the road from us here is West Wales where they get scoured, sorted and spun up into a wonderful yarn, which is next to skin soft, and fabulous to knit with.