Monday, March 17, 2014

2014 Ram Microns and lace

The micron data came back today from the rams.  This is fleece taken last month.  I'm very pleased with the results.

Overall stat avgs:  AFD 23.5, SD 4.7, CV 20, CEM 8.3.  CF 79.2, SF 22.7, CRV 82.1

Adult Rams

  AFD     SD    CV  CEM    SF   CRV    CF
Dreamie 26.1 4.3 16.4 7.3 24.5 77.3 85.3
Stronsay 25.8 5.0 19.3 8.1 24.8 81.1 82.5
Velour 26.6 5.3 19.7 8.4 25.6 65.1 78.4
Dungaree 25.8 6.7 26.0 11.3 26.3 70.8 74.4
Ben 29.8 5.3 17.6 9.1 28.2 73.1 58.4

Yearling Rams
   AFD      SD     CV   CEM     SF    CRV      CF
BC neck 18.7 3.5 18.5 6.7 17.8 101.9 99.9
Blue Castello 19.2 4.3 22.3 8.3 18.9 93.6 99.7
Venaco 21.7 4.3 20.0 7.5 21.0 88.0 98.2
Asiago 22.0 4.3 19.6 7.3 21.1 79.4 97.7
Mobay 22.1 4.1 18.5 7.2 21.1 99.2 97.9
Manchego 22.2 4.7 21.2 8.2 21.6 82.4 95.8
Mahon 22.7 4.9 21.8 9.2 22.2 82.6 93.0
Crowley 23.0 4.9 21.3 9.3 22.5 71.2 92.5
Stilton 23.4 4.1 17.4 7.7 22.1 84.0 94.8

Our sheep eat very well - and the rams are no exception.  Some noteworthy comments:  
  • The most important stats to me are the CEM and SD.  These must be low - and the range that they are in is appropriate for fine fleeced Shetlands.  These numbers show that most have a spinning fineness that is lower than the AFD.  They also indicate, by the low numbers, that there are no guard hairs present, which give the fleece a coarse handle.  Breeders must be careful not to go too low, though, because this indicates a fleece without the Shetland 'tip' which gives the characteristic feathering.
  • Bramble McDreamie will be 7 years old this year.  Exceptional stats for his age.  
  • Velour and Dungaree will be 3 this year.  Great numbers for them.  Velour placed 1st and R CH Ram and Dungaree placed 3rd under SSS breeder/inspector/judges Kate Sharp and Alan Hill at WSWF when they were lambs in 2011.  They sure knew how to pick a couple of good ones!  Both of these rams have silky soft fleeces.  Their daughters have very nice fleeces as well.
  • Dungaree was shown again last year at WSWF as a 2 yr old and placed 1st in Senior rams.  He also passed inspection under SSS breeder/inspector/judge Maurice Wakeling.  Dungaree also roos very well. 
  • Stronsay will be 2.  He is rooing this year as well.  This ram can still do capriole's, he is that agile and strong but light framed.  Never have seen another adult ram do that!
  • BC neck refers to Blue Castello's neck.  For fibers below 15 microns, Castello's mid-side fleece has almost 12% that fit that range!  See below for more details.
  • Mahon was the 2013 WSWF Supreme Champion under Maurice Wakeling.
  • I used Dreamie, Stronsay, Castello, and Venaco for breeding rams last fall.  

Ok, now back to Blue Castello.  
Last month when I was snipping fleece from the boys to send in for microns, I happened to grab Castello by the neck.  Mistake. He was rooing and left me with a large handful of neck wool.  You know, the brain can process information pretty fast.  A handful of 18.7 micron fleece, with more than 11% of those fibers being less than 15 microns, leaves a very definite impression in the brain . . . an impression of oohhhh and aahhhhh . . .  as I was standing there with that handful of very soft silky neck wool, visions of lace yarn popped into my head.  And, over the next few days, I proceeded to roo a bit more of Castello's neck.  Not a lot mind you.  Just enough for my greedy hands to hold (and NOT to stuff in my pockets!).  Or at least I thought I was holding it.  A handful of that wool literally weighs only grams.  I would wash it up in the sink as soon as I got inside, then dried it by the fire.  Some quick flicks from the flicker, and I spun right from the locks.  It was actually fun to spin on my Lendrum lace flyer, at 30:1 ratio. 

Castello's neck wool - this is truer to the blue color that he is.

Here is the skein I spun from some of Castello's neck wool, next to a lock.  Yes, his neck fiber is actually 3" unstretched (and much more stretched).  The dime is for comparison.  The 2 ply skein weighs 20 g (about 0.7 oz) and is 298 yds long.  That is over 400 yds/oz and 6,640 yds/lb!  I flipped through my copy of the Shetland Island spinners A Legacy of Shetland Lace book and found a simple lace scarf to knit.  Have to keep putting lotion on my hands to keep from snagging the fibers as I'm knitting.  And knitting this fine of yarn is a whole different concept than even knitting my lace weight yarn.  It's in a realm by itself.  Superfine, fine Shetland fleece.  No wonder it is famous worldwide.  

Oh yeah.  Lambing has started!