Breed of the week: Karakul!
We are celebrating the birth of fall lambs at Sue Bundy’s farm: RedGate. Sue and I started Solitude Wool almost eight years ago so Karakuls are family. There is a lot to say about this breed, but with lamb photos to share I’ll keep it really brief. I just looked at the Wikipedia about Karakuls and I think it’s really good (read it):
Originally from Central Asia, and one of…or maybe THE oldest of sheep breeds in the world, they are adapted to harsh conditions; just like camels store energy in their hump, Karakuls can store energy in their fat tails.
American Karakuls are a rare heritage breed.
Black is a primary color, but there are white, red, brown, silver and frosted colors (which we love).
Ancient sheep had a long outer coat to protect them from the weather and a short down undercoat to keep them warm. Karakuls are one of the breeds that retain this Primitive type of fleece.
Karakul’s, like only a few other breeds, will breed out of season and lamb in the fall. This is a little ewe lamb (actually she is good size for being a day old) was born Tuesday morning in the nicely bedded barn out of that cold wind.
Here she is with her mother, who is clearly not trusting my motives with the camera and stomping her foot at me. The adults were sheared not too long ago, maybe 6 weeks? Karakuls grow fleece at about an inch a month and must be sheared twice a year.
See the lamb with the white head and penetrating stare? He has a poultry fixation. Nicknamed Bouncer (aka: Bruiser), he was the first lamb born just two weeks ago. He was caught on video when he was still the only lamb on the farm…chasing chickens. You can see it on our Facebook page. It will brighten a cold day.
Very rare: Karakul yarn
I believe that Solitude Wool has the only Karakul yarn grown, spun and dyed here in the US. It is definitely our most unusual yarn, and the most interesting too. The long outer, coarse, hair-like coat is very very strong and non elastic and the light short underdown makes this yarn felt fabulously. Those characteristics together make this yarn the best for knit-to-felt bags that are hard wearing and solid (no need to line them). Sue Burke designed these bags and created a pattern for us using Karakul with another yarn, our Tunis. Easy to knit, the pattern includes hand felting instructions and sources for leather handles. If you order both Karakul and Tunis online, I will include the pattern free this week only. Small bag (orange) takes one large or two small skeins of Tunis, and two skeins Karakul. Mini bag (gray) takes one small skein each of Tunis and Karakul. Coming in early 2015 we will have a new version of the pattern available for download.
Karakul is also incredibly insulating. This attribute makes for great coasters (easy and fast for potential holiday gifts) and bottle cozys that will keep your coffee hot (even at a frigid farmers market stand) or your water bottle cold (even at a swealtering farmers market stand). Karakul is at least twice as good as other wools for insulation, I know this from experience.
Markets this weekend
I will be bringing the Karakul, Tunis, these bags and lots of other yarns to market this weekend: Falls Church, Virginia on Saturday morning and Dupont FreshFarm market in DC on Sunday. Come down and touch everything and take some home with you!
Tinkerbell loaded up for trip to the mill
Sue and I are heading up to Pennsylvannia today to deliver a whole bunch of fleece for a new dyed-in-the-wool yarn we have been working on for a LONG time: 50% natural colored llama blended with 50% dyed Romney in nine colors.
We are excited to see this mill. I’m taking my camera and will start to tell the story in next weeks email.
Honk if you see us on the road!
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This is the season for woolen: warm, insulating yarns that are light in weight and cozy. But...you ask, what makes a yarn woolen? The short answer is woolen yarns are spun with fibers opened up, but going all which ways to trap air inside the yarn. They are lighter in weight, but warmer than worsted spun yarns. They tend to hold a shape, are not "hard wearing" and they can pill... but they are great for hats, blankets...sweaters, warm woolen mittens and other of my favorite things.
If you want a bit of a longer explanation...read on.