Breed of the Week: Montadale & Leesburg and Falls Church, VA markets Saturday 12/13, Dupont Circle, DC market Sunday 12/14

by Gretchen Frederick December 12, 2014

Breed of the Week: Montadale & Leesburg and Falls Church, VA markets Saturday 12/13, Dupont Circle, DC market Sunday 12/14

Ahhhh, good weather should get us to all three markets this weekend: Leesburg & Falls Church, VA on Saturday and Dupont Circle in DC on Sunday
I don’t know about you…but I am starting to get a little revved about Christmas. It’s almost here! Time to get serious. How about you? Are you all done and thinking about that knitting project you’re going to start in January? Either way, we hope you will come see Sue at Leesburg or me at Falls Church and Dupont.

Maybe someone is trying to shop for you and needs a suggestion? We have card gift certificates available at market, or email me and I will create a personalized pdf gift certificate in any amount.

Breed of the week: Montadale (6% off at market)

I’m embarassed to say that at the Blue Ridge Spinners and Weavers Guild Holiday potluck yesterday I was knitting a hat with our Montadale Woolen yarn and when asked about the breed I couldn’t remember what breed of sheep was crossed with Columbia to create it. I’ve looked this up many times. Wonder if I will remember now?

The Montadale breed is one of many attempts to create “the perfect sheep.” This time it was a man named E. H. Mattingly. In 1932 he went to Kalispel, Montana and got a Columbia ram took it to the mid-west and bred him to a Cheviot ewe. In the end, they switched it up and the breed is based on Cheviot rams with Columbia ewes, but they were very happy with the great dual purpose breed. The wool of Montadales varies from fine to medium and is known for being whiter than many breeds.

It takes many people and a long time to make yarn
Breed of the Week: Montadale Sheep - Solitude Wool
First it was Linda Shane (from Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival Fleece sale) who introduced us to Saffer’s Montadales in Warwick Maryland on the Eastern Shore. She knew there was good wool there. I haven’t been, but Sue was very impressed with the farm, especially having two shearers (this is big suff in our world of small farms).
Breed of the Week: Montadale Sheep - Solitude Wool
and we got quite a haul for us: three [wool] bags full!
Breed of the Week: Montadale Sheep - Solitude Wool
We drove the wool up to Maine, had it scoured then sent to Bartlettyarns, a historic mill in Harmony. It was a cold day when we were there. I remember we were getting flurries and we had left full Spring behind in Virginia.

Bartlett has the last mule spinner in the country. What is a mule spinner? It spins a true woolen yarn, for you hand spinners, that means it is created with a long draw.
Breed of the Week: Montadale Sheep - Solitude Wool
See those tracks on the floor? The mule (? I think…) travels back on the tracks drafting out the wool as it’s spun, just like a hand spinner’s arm pulls the wool back, trapping air, making a very light, very warm yarn. Bartlett made a video when they spun the yarn for us and put it on YouTube.

It comes back to us on cones. It takes many more steps from our small, hardworking team (thank you Debbie and Lynn!), skeining, washing (thank you Sue), dyeing (me), rinsing, re-skeining, labeling (and thats a story in itself…) before it is ready to offer to you. One of these emails I will follow that end. But typically, from fleece to yarn ready to sell is between one and two years. Jeeze, really? We are poster children for slow yarn.

Montadale woolen makes great hats
Knit Hat Montadale Yarn (Breed of the Week: Montadale Sheep - Solitude Wool)
It’s the base for the Solitude Dots hat. We have a kit pairing it with our Romney for the dots.

Monty Woolen is also great for sweaters, shawls, blankets…anything to cover or wrap yourself up in in this nasty winter that hasn’t even started yet. Just looking at it…it doesn’t make you oooooh or ahhhhh. Then I made a watch cap to go with my barn coat. I really loved working with it, it’s squishy, it’s comfort knitting. I wore it. I love it. I want more!
Breed of the Week: Montadale Sheep - Solitude Wool
If you aren’t into polka dots (hard to imagine, but possible), you can make almost any hat with one skein. We have two wayyyy simple patterns for a watch cap or rolled brim hat available for free. We will have patterns at market, and are trying to get it up on the web. If you order the Monty woolen, we will include one of the patterns for you (add a note which one you would like with your order).

Make a hat for yourself or a gift…it only takes a couple, three evenings to knit one.

If you are local, get out of the house this weekend while the weather is good and finish up that Christmas list! Hope to see you at market!

Gretchen


Gretchen Frederick
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