Thursday, 24 April 2014

Spring blossom's show time!

Spring seems to be well underway here at Deerfold. The hedge bottoms this year are a mass of wild primroses and wood anemones with the first bluebells and wild garlic beginning to show themselves too. I don't know if the wet winter has helped them or that we had such a dreadful spring last year we are noticing the flowers more now? Here are a few more photos of the latest things out in my garden and you must add the soundtrack of the birdsong yourself! Cue the blackbirds, willow warbler, chiff chaff et al.

A dwarf Azalea which I bought many years ago in Cornwall - I love the colour!

This patch of wallfowers has been in flower for the whole winter and is now into it's third year. The lovely burnt orange colour is one of my favourite wallflower colours and the scent is heavenly. Must dye some yarn that colour!

We have three wild cherry trees along our driveway which always look lovely at this time of year. With the recent heavy showers these past few days the petals are floating over the garden like confetti.

Not long after we moved here I planted a small group of Snakes Head Fritillaries in a sheltered part of the garden. I think they are settling in now and seem to be increasing gradually each year.
The star of the garden at the moment though is this hybrid Rhododendron - I can't remember it's name - which I can see from the conservatory. This definitely benefitted from the wet winter as the flower buds develop in the autumn and the plant likes to be moist at this time.
I hope the heavy rain that we are expected to get this weekend doesn't spoil the flowers. And I hope that it will not deter the crowds as ...... yes folks it's show time!!!! Yippeee! Helen, John and I will be setting up the stall tomorrow afternoon so we are ready for the crowds on Saturday. Let's hope the weather isn't as bad as forecast and certainly not as cold as last year! I've been told by Helen to wear my thermals! I'm not sure what I shall be looking to buy but I wouldn't be surprised if I came back with another drop spindle or two!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Sticky Buds


During a recent sunny spell I took a stroll around my garden and this is what I found.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Dandelion and Border Leicester Fleeces.

Whilst giving the sheep their breakfast yesterday I noticed that a patch of fleece on Dandelions back was starting to come away. So after a brief wrestle I managed to get him in a position to try and get as much fleece off him before he got it draped over all the hedges. I was quite surprised by how much came away and after a short while I had quite a pile of short, soft brown fluff. However Dandelion wasn't going to be cooperative for too long and as the fleece around his shoulders seemed to be reluctant to come off I decided to continue rooing him another day when, hopefully after some more warm weather, the fleece may be easy to pluck.

The fleece is very much like Soay or Castlemilk Moorit with a very short staple length and lots of skin flakes. So after consulting the Fleece and Fibre Sourcebook I gave a handful of fleece a wash and, once it was dry, put a few locks through my Louet Mini Combs - double row- and sure enough the skin flakes were not a problem.
When I manage to get the rest of the fleece off him I shall wash it and spin a sample up on one of my drop spindles to see what it is like. I have also been busy, weather permitting, washing a few fleeces from my stash as I like to get them dried outside in the sunshine. I managed to do two huge fleeces that were from Nibbles which were waiting to be done and a couple of fleeces that I bought some while ago when I was asked to teach spinning at a local heritage centre. Sadly these classes folded due to lack of interest and consequently I was left with loads of raw wool and an equipment surplus. I did get the wheels sold on Ebay but the fleeces have been waiting in the barn. Quite what I shall do with them remains to be seen but at least a couple have been washed!
 With thoughts turning to this years shearing I have been thinking of getting some of those fleeces on my wish list. Breeds that are not usually seen for sale either because they are rare or they are of more commercial breeds. I have been trying for a couple of years to get my hands on a Border Leicester fleece but without success. I did have a conversation with a lady at Woolfest last year who came from Scotland and she thought that she may be able to get one or two, but sadly that came to nothing. So a few days ago after reading about Border Leicester sheep in the lovely book Adventures in Yarn Farming by Barbara Parry I decided to trawl the internet one coffee time and see if I could find somebody willing to sell me a fleece or too. Lo and behold I found a website all about Border Leicester sheep and I contacted Ellie Stokeld who owns the Doulton Flock of prize winning sheep. What a find! After a couple of lovely emails I will hopefully be going up to North Yorkshire to collect a couple of fleeces and get to meet Ellie and her sheep. What a result! She kindly sent me a photo of one of her shearling rams.
This handsome chap is called Pavarotti and now lives in Italy! I'll let you know all about the fleeces when I can get my mitts on them.