This weekend, I have a special treat: a local to NY spinner and knitter who also has a lovely fiber flock. I met Miriam Rosenblatt through our knittingthestash Ravelry group and she has been killing it in the 4oz challenge these past couple of months! I love seeing the photos she shares of her handspun and hand knit FOs. Miriam agreed to an interview about her handspinners flock of sheep and I am very happy to share the results–and some adorable photos here with you. Be sure to check out the descriptions under each photo for information about the cute fiber animals! [All photos are credited to Miriam]
Me and Jumper, a Shetland ewe.
Sammy is a mixed breed wether. His previous owner said he’s a “Heinz 57 variety” meaning he’s got 57 breeds. An exaggeration, surely, but she listed about 8 breeds and said it was just part of what’s in him. I haven’t worked with his wool yet, either.
Most of the flock
Bowie, a Jacob / Dorset cross wether
Daisy, Shetland ewe. She is one of the lambs born here, her mother is Jumper.
Coco is a Shetland ewe. She and her daughter, Jumper, were our first
Sal, a Suffolk cross wether
Henry, Angora goat
Shelby, an East Friesian sheep. This breed is typically for dairy and I haven’t worked with her wool yet, but I heard from a friend that it’s really nice.
How did your flock get its start?
Our first two sheep were given to us by some friends who had already rescued them. As much as I insisted we would only have those two sheep (after all, we were never farmers) we just couldn’t stop at that. Those first two were a mother and daughter, so we got a ram to breed them. They each had a ewe lamb. We started picking up odd sheep here and there – usually because previous owners could no longer keep them and they needed a good home.
What kinds of fiber animals do you raise and why?
Sheep for wool, Angora goats for mohair, and one Angora rabbit for angora.
Most of our sheep were rescues and different breeds and mixes, so we did not choose one breed of sheep specifically for fiber. They are well-loved pets and I believe that happy and healthy sheep will produce good fiber. They each have unique fiber and as I work with it I learn about its qualities and uses.
We recently started with Angora goats because my mom has a lifelong obsession with mohair. It is a beautiful fiber that is great on its own and also works great with wool. It is extremely strong and has a gorgeous luster and halo. Angora is incredibly warm and soft, among the softest of all fibers. I prefer to blend it with wool as on its own, it does not have any elasticity or memory.
What is your favorite part of raising fiber animals?
Spending time with them and building a bond with them is by far the most rewarding part. They are such beautiful animals. Most of them come up to me readily and love to be scratched on their chins or behind their ears. I’m so happy that we can give them a good home and I believe they know how much we appreciate them and their fiber.
If you are a spinner/knitter/weaver, what is on your wheel/needles/loom?
I’m currently spinning some alpaca from a local friend who raises prize winning alpacas. I’m spinning one ply in 100% alpaca and for my second ply I will blend the alpaca with wool. Alpaca, like angora, doesn’t have elasticity or memory, so I like to blend it with wool.
I have quite a few shawls on the needles at the moment. I just started The Doodler by Stephen West, it’s my second shawl of his. I’m really appreciating the structures of his designs and it has me thinking of possibilities with my handspun. I have a rigid heddle loom but have only done a couple projects on it. I absolutely love it and look forward to working with it more. The way fibers and colors play in weaving is completely different from knitting and so much fun to experiment with.
What would you like hand spinners to know about your fiber?
I’m just getting started and haven’t been able to offer fiber for hand spinning yet. I haven’t found a mill that produces the quality I would be comfortable selling. I have some fiber to work with that I plan on carding myself on a drum carder into batts or rolags. I’d like hand spinners to know that I put a lot of effort into creating a product that will be an enjoyable spin, and that the fiber will always be different from year to year. Each animal is unique and each year’s fleece is unique.
What is special about the area in which you live/raise a flock?
I live in central New York state where there is a lot of historical farmland. It is being revived as people become more interested in small farming and local production. We live on land that was a farm from the 1890s to the 1960s, and then hadn’t been farmed since then. It’s great having animals on the land again, although our flock is a lot smaller than the dairy herds that used to be raised here!
How and where can folks find you in the local community?
I hope to be a vendor at the local fiber festival in June – the Central New York Fiber Festival in Bouckville, NY. http://www.cnyfiber.org/ As I continue to grow over the next few years I hope to do more small fairs and markets.
How can interested buyers get in touch with you?
- Instagram: @miriam_knits
- ravelry: miriam924
- I have a website also, but social media is the best way to get in touch with me, rather than email or website: http://TheConstantThread.wix.com/mysite
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Thanks so much Miriam!
I love meeting new people (and sheep!): if you are an indie dyer, a hand spinner, a shepherdess, a small flock owner, a mill operator, or a wool trader, I would love to feature your work on this site. Please get in touch via email or Ravelry by clicking the “About” tab (above)