I stopped by Nancy Ellison’s farm on my way to deliver my weaving to Vesterheim, as I had a whole bag of fleece to return to her. She gave me the bag last fall to cull locks for my warp-weighted loom varafeldur. Amazingly, once I sorted through the whole bag and used masses of locks for the weaving, the bag still seemed full! Since I am not a spinner, I needed to get the bag out of my closet and back to Nancy. The timing was amusing. This was the week she had all her sheep clipped, so my returned bag increased the pile of about 35 other bags!
As we walked to the fleece area, we passed a goose lying on eggs, and her geese friends all hissed at us. I asked how many eggs usually hatch. “Oh, she’s not such a good mother,” Nancy replied, “last year she had a dozen eggs and none hatched.” Better luck this year, goose!
The sheep in the pasture looked a bit forlorn on the gray, chilly early morning.
Nancy loves her sheep dearly. She said that after they are shorn, she pets the tame ones. They really like it, the new sense of touch on their backs, without many inches of fleece in the way. She also said that when they go back to the pasture after shearing, they don’t always recognize each other, and a bit of nuzzling is needed as they get reaquainted. Right after their fleece comes off in the barn, many leap and frolic after the wooly weight is removed.
We visited the goats, too. One looked a bit crazy, with only one horn; the heat treatment to stop horn growth didn’t work on one side. I asked why she wanted to stop the horns from growing, and Nancy pointed out that you could easily get poked in the eye when feeding them if horns were present. One sheep had long horns curled back. Nancy said that when that sheep was younger, she was bossy because she was the one with the horns.
Nancy delivered her weaving for the exhibition at Vesterheim the day before, so when I reached the museum, I hunted it out. It is a krokbragd stole made of handspan yarn. But she had the idea of making rya loops of commercial mohair on the back, after the piece was off the loom, rather than while it was being woven. What a cool and beautiful result. She tied the knots along the length of the stole through the longer floats created by the krokbragd technique.
One more reason to visit the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum this summer!