Friday, May 18, 2018

Botanical Lace Dreams






The Handknitters Guild Show event at Coburg town hall last Sunday on May 13th was amazing! It brought loads of wonderful yarnies together but was also  a great opportunity to meet up with equally yarn and fibre addicted people. I don’t know how many times I heard “aaaaaaah!!!” and “oooohs” and “sorry, but I just have to touch you” remarks. That last was obviously meant to say "i want to fondle your  jumper or shawl"  but knitters are very tactile people that do not shy away from admiring someones “lanesplitter” skirt or a gorgeous “sunset highway jumper” by Caitlin Hunter or the shawl I was wearing : “jolly Roger Shawl: by Aino Haikala. Knitters and spinners are amazing people to be around! You get hugged more ! The knitter and fibre world is AWESOME and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise !   Knitting and spinning has saved my sanity more than once and I think all of us fibre enthusiasts are gentle tactile “softies” (and I mean that in the most amazing way possible!!!) .  I love you all !

It was a really exciting day out for me because it was also the launch of a new IxCHeL yarn line : a Superfine Merino Lace weight yarn spun in Victoria especially for us and handdyed right here at the IxCHeL Fibre Farm by yours truly.
No less than two amazing designers have made created something especially for this yarn: A multifunctional crochet wrap by Tomiskars’ Emma Bowe “I got Buterflies” (https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/ive-got-butterflies) It is a fun and versatile crochet pattern and easy to make too and only needs one skein of IxCHeL Lace weight yarn ! How good is that ?!! Please go and check the pattern out !


I have been dyeing and painting for decades and yet it had never occurred to me before a couple of weeks ago, to combine certain watercolour techniques on fibre and yarn. When I was lucky enough to have accumulated some beautifully fermented natural dye pigments I started experimenting with , what I would call a “water colour technique” of painting and adhering the pigments to the yarn from light to dark, layer upon layer. It was mesmerizing to see the depth and glow grow with each layer. I was hooked. So, I did more and more and I alternated the eco printing with the semi solid natural dyeing to create this amazing array of lace weight yarns that combine perfectly together and look absolutely magical. So yeah, although it takes many days to create this kind of effect, I am absolutely over the moon! The yarn base has everything to do with it as well, being a superfine merino and takes the dye brilliantly. It was a great canvas so to speak.




see how awesome the natural dyed colours go together ? 
From eco printed,  to comfrey to woad….it’s magic


So, this week it is the new hand dyed Lace Weight IxCHeL super fine pure Merino yarn AND the sign ups for the next IxCHeL Fibre, Batt and yarn clubs (time flies !!!! Next week the May club will be shipped of and then there is only one club left for those of you who have signed up for last three months sign up! Time  to renew or sign up !!!!)

As for the lace yarn: there are only a small amount available so please don’t wait too long for this amazing yarn that knits and crochets up like a dream !



Have a fun weekend with lots of fibre play and love!!

All my contact details and "HOW TO ORDER" are also to be found at the end of this week’s blog entry. And please remember: Every time you buy from a small business or a farm you are not only getting something unique and handmade but you are supporting so much more !

IxCHeL Botanical Dye Range Lace Weight Yarns

100 grams/ 3.53 oz AU$30

100% Super fine Australian Merino +/- 750meters / 820 yards








Shibori Indigo






Indigo






Eco printed lace yarn “Rebel” (Woad, Walnut, Indigo, Madder, Eucalypt) only 2 available






Woad Light-






Eco watercolour method Light: walnut/indigo/woad/madder/eucalyptus




Eco watercolour method Dark: walnut/indigo/woad/madder/eucalyptus




Eco printed ; Eucalyptus, Madder root, Oak, Walnut, Coreopsis





Woad dark




Walnut ( Pigments extracted from fermented walnut husks from season 2016)




Oak Galls and Acorns




Madder root








Madder root Light to dark




Comfrey leaves





The New IxCHeL Club sign ups are OPEN until June 30th or until spaces are filled !!!

Get a monthly fibre and yarn surprise !

Always great blends and new colourways inspired by the Art Journey Theme ! 



July, August and September 2018





For all our international club fans there is a possibility to ship all three clubs together to save on postage if you want :-) Just pm me and enquire about the options available.


IxCHeL Fibre Club July , August and Septembere 2018


The subscription is for a period of three months and you will receive one special hand dyed top/roving per month to the value of AU$24 or more

All the tops will be hand dyed and will be especially made for the members of IxCHeL Fibre Club ! Price to join the IxCHeL Fibre Club #36 and receive your special hand dyed top :)) for three months (July, August and September 2018) is AU$72 + postage (parcel post or airmail). AND there are good value double serves available !!!



For Australia : single serve $72+$29 postage (parcel post), double serve $136+$29 (save $8) or triple serves $204 (save $12!) + postage


For USA + Canada: single serve AU$72+AU$57 (Airmail) double serve AU$136+AU$57


For UK,Europe, rest of the world: Single serve AU$72+AU$69 (airmail) Double serve AU$136+AU$69


For Asia: Single serve AU$72+AU$50 (airmail) Double serve AU$136+AU$50


If you want to receive a fibre surprise every month then join the IXCHEL FIBRE CLUB #36 now. Numbers are strictly limited ! The July 2018 Club is going to be shipped out end of July, the August club mid August and the September club mid September. Payment via direct deposit or credit card or paypal. Just PM or email me your details.


The IxCHeL Sock Yarn Clubs  July, August and September 2018


Every month for three months (July, August and September 2018) you will receive: enough hand dyed luscious yummy yarn to make a pair of socks or a lush shawl or scarf ofcourse! (the hand dyed yarn will be exclusive for the Ixchelbunny SOCK-IT-TO-ME Yarn CLUB and will range from a sockweight yarn (a 4ply/fingering weight yarn) or an 8ply / DK weight enough to make a pair of socks ; Every month a sock pattern, tips and instructions ! Now is that GOOD or is that GOOD ??!


I will even offer a double serve for those of you who like their socks extra long !


For Australia : single serve $87+$29 postage (parcel post) double serve $146(= one skein FREE!!!) +$29


For USA + Canada: single serve AU$87+AU$57 (Airmail) double serve $146 (= one skein FREE!!!) +AU$57


For UK,Europe, rest of the world: Single serve AU$87+AU$69 (airmail) Double serve $145 (= one skein FREE!!!) +AU$69


For Asia: Single serve AU$87+AU$50 (airmail) Double serve $145 (= one skein FREE!!!) +AU$50


Numbers are strictly limited ! 
Payment via direct deposit or credit card or paypal . Just PM or email me your details 
  By the way: you don’t HAVE to knit socks if you don’t want to.. the hand dyed yarn is amazingly nice for scarves, cowls, beanies and even tops ! Anything goes . The July 2018 Club is going to be shipped out end of July, the August club mid August and the September club Mid September.


IxCHeL Funky Bunny Batt Clubs  July, August and September 2018

Here are all the details and just pm me when you have any questions or want to be part of the funky bunny batt club Movement ;-) Welcome to the blingy dark side ;-D
The subscription is for a period of three months and you will receive one special hand dyed funky bunny batt per month to the value of AU$40 or more .
The batts will range in weight from 140grams to 180grams with luxury fibres like camel , angora, cashmere, silk, yak, llama even wallaby and bison and rare sheep breeds !!!! All the batts will be hand dyed and will be especially made for the members of IxCHeL funky bunny Club ! Every month you will receive a HUGE luxury funky bunny batt !
Sign up now and you will receive an Ixchel Hand dyed , super luxurious funky bunny batt for July, August and September 2018.

Price to join the IxCHeL Funky bunny for three months is :

For Australia : $114+$29 postage (parcel post)

For USA + Canada: AU$114+AU$57 (Airmail)

For UK,Europe, rest of the world: AU$114+AU$69 (airmail)

For Asia: AU$114+AU$50 (airmail)

If you want to receive a fibre surprise every month then join the IXCHEL FUNKY BUNNY BATT CLUB now. 
Numbers are strictly limited ! The July 2018 club is going to be shipped out end of July, the August club mid August and the September club mid September 2018. Payment via direct deposit or credit card or paypal. Just PM or email me



Please don't hesitate to contact me at any time if you have any questions okay? Always happy to enable. All my contact details are to be found at the end of this week’s blog entry. 
Have a fun weekend !!!



Please don't hesitate to contact me at any time if you have any questions okay? Always happy to enable. All my contact details are also to be found at the end of this week’s blog entry.



Have a creative week!
Please don't hesitate to contact me at any time if you have any questions okay? : Always happy to enable.

All my contact details are here:








Have a Creative and Fun week!

All my contact details are here:



How To Order:
1. You can email me on ixchel at rabbit dot com dot au or ixchelbunny at yahoo dot com dot au
2. Message me on facebook or 
3. Message me on www.ravelry.com  where I am ixchelbunny.
4. message me on Instagram where I am @ixchelbunny

I will email you right back with all your order details and payment methods.


Any questions? Any custom orders for yarn or dyeing fibre? : Please don’t hesitate to ask! Always happy to enable.



Dates to put in your Calendar


Friday July 20th to Sunday July 22nd 

Australian Sheep and Wool Show, Bendigo.
Go to http://www.sheepshow.com to see what is happening and book your tickets. The Bendigo Sheep and Wool show is the biggest wool show in Australia ! with an amazing amount of woolcraft, indie dyers, a huge amount of tops, yarn, craft, felt and spindles, spinning wheels and anything you need for your knitting,crocheting and crafting.
I will be there with an amazing amount of new exclusive wool blends and yarns, batts, felt and landscape and botanical natural dyes and so much more !!!
I will also have spindles by the amazing Bearded Dragon and lots of fibre tools as well from darning mushrooms to noste pinne and needle cases to distaffs. And, there will also be some wonderful Turkish spindles from my friend Scott Snyder available again !

Get ready for a fabulous weekend filled with lots of craft and fun !!!








 RABBIT ON !
((hugs))
Charly
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Friday, May 11, 2018

Winter isn't coming, it's HERE !




"Bunny Play" by the amazing painter Marcel Witte
(please check out his awesome work as a visual storyteller here:https://www.marcelwitte.com ) 


Well, where to start???? First of all: I have been dyeing and spinning and labelling and skeining like an energizer bunny, trying to get everything done on time (it is CRAZY!!! Or cray cray times 1000); On top of all that Flickr (the photo site I put all my photos for my blog om) decided it might be a good idea to blow everything up and dumped all my photos in an undisclosed location , which I cannot access or add to.Thanks Flickr! Grrrrr) and then there is the amazing COLD snap coupled with the amount of deluge and snowiness the end of times would be proud of advertising. Great for drying yarns ! LOL But hey, I am not panicking or angry or distressed or any of tht stuff that doesn’t really help to get things done. Instead, I made myself a cuppa with some nice honey and added dash of brandy to hold off the head cold and let’s face it , cold in general. I am pretty proud of myself not exploding in a Tasmanian Devil kind of rage or panic! Maybe there is a point that you just tell yourself…”whatever” and say “this is what it is, let’s work with that” …..

Anyway.......on tonights blog I am going to offer you some newly made kits and advertise the fact that I am going to be at the Handknitters Guild show next Sunday at Coburg Town Hall. I know, well it has been brough to my attention, that Sunday May 13th coincides with mother’s day , which is a bit of a clash for a lot of people, but I do hope that lots of yarn fans still show up to see what so many indie dyers (including little old me..lol) have been working so hard to create for all of you.

 I wish I could offer you all the tubs and tubs worth of stock I prepared for this event ( I managed to dye around 30+kilos of yarns and hand spin around 10kilos!!! so I am pretty chuffed about the fact my body has not totally collapsed yet LOL) BUT I promise (fingers crossed that flickr cleans its act up or I find a work around) that next weeks blog update will be filled with speckles and colourful yarn !!! (update: I found a work around which takes a bit more time but I can deal with that LOL so next weeks WILL be filled with speckled  and handdyed and yarny fun!!!)

Here's a  little look of the yarns that are about to be labelled and packed  I hope to see you at the hand knitters guild show on Sunday, together with a new colourway range I am working on at the moment called the "sexy Scientists" range !!!  lol




the "sexy weatherman" colourway  will be available at the Handknitters guild show on the IxCHel Sock yarn base
and the IxCHeL silver star sock yarn base too wih more sexy scientists coming soon :-) . Stay tuned !!!



Also, there are still some spots available in the super rare sheep breed adventure of last week with the Icelandic Leadersheep tops and batts!!! This fluffy stuff does not come around often, so have a look at last weeks blog to read up on this fantastic sheep and contact me with your choice of undyed or dyed tops or batts to support this amazing breed and small farmers.





Have a fabulous weekend with lots of fibre play and fun!!

All my contact details and "HOW TO ORDER" are also to be found at the end of this week’s blog entry. And please remember: Every time you buy from a small business or a farm you are not only getting something unique and handmade but you are supporting so much more !

IxCHeL Indigo Dye Kit

AU$45

Comes with everything to dye 750 to a kilo of yarn, fibre or fabric ! plus a fibre top, gloves and recipes to make your dye vat successful !







I also have used the indigo to produce awesome shibori type resist dyes on yarns and fabric, Dyeing with indigo is just absolutely magic !

IxCHeL Osage Orange Dye pigments

AU$11

Comes with a 100+ grams of osage Orange and recipes to dye at least 500grams of yarn, fibre or fabric in full colour and you can use it again and again to exhaust your dyebath, creating the most wonderful array of colours !


pre mordanting your yarns will make it either a gorgeous yellow gold or a mossy green ! magic !







The Osage Orange tree produces this amazing fruit (which I have not dyed with (yet) 
and the wood has also been used by first nation peoples to make bows, 
because of its amazing flexibility and resilience)






Have a fun weekend Creating your Dreams!

Please don't hesitate to contact me at any time if you have any questions okay? Always happy to enable.

All my contact details are to be found at the end of this weeks blog entry.
Have fun !!!


Have a Creative and Fun week!

All my contact details are here:



How To Order:
1. You can email me on ixchel at rabbit dot com dot au or ixchelbunny at yahoo dot com dot au
2. Message me on facebook or 
3. Message me on www.ravelry.com  where I am ixchelbunny.
4. message me on Instagram where I am @ixchelbunny

I will email you right back with all your order details and payment methods.


Any questions? Any custom orders for yarn or dyeing fibre? : Please don’t hesitate to ask! Always happy to enable.



Dates to put in your Calendar

SUNDAY MAY 13TH 10AM – 3PM 

HAND KNITTERS GUILD OF VICTORIA YARN AND FIBRE SHOW
COBURG  TOWN HALL
BELL STREET , COBURG, 3058

I know it is mothers day  but please, if you are a mum,all you have to do is request to be taken to this awesome event and demand presents and if you are NOT a mum -like me- , demand to go this event and get pressies because we all deserve it ! See, a happy day for everybody ! LOL

A fabulous day filled with lots of yarn and fibre goodies and spindles, bowls and lots more !
An amazing day out !
Hope to see you there !
You can find the IxCHeL Stall and wall of colourful yarns and fibre at stall nr 1 and 2 at the front entrance. You can’t miss us !

Friday July 20th to Sunday July 22nd 

Australian Sheep and Wool Show, Bendigo.
Go to http://www.sheepshow.com to see what is happening and book your tickets. The Bendigo Sheep and Wool show is the biggest wool show in Australia ! with an amazing amount of woolcraft, indie dyers, a huge amount of tops, yarn, craft, felt and spindles, spinning wheels and anything you need for your knitting,crocheting and crafting.
I will be there with an amazing amount of new exclusive wool blends and yarns, batts, felt and landscape and botanical natural dyes and so much more !!!
I will also have spindles by the amazing Bearded Dragon and lots of fibre tools as well from darning mushrooms to noste pinne and needle cases to distaffs. And, there will also be some wonderful Turkish spindles from my friend Scott Snyder available again !

Get ready for a fabulous weekend filled with lots of craft and fun !!!








 RABBIT ON !
((hugs))
Charly
qrcode

Friday, May 4, 2018

Leader sheep: A new Rare Sheep breed adventure


Follow the Leader


First of all HAPPY MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU-Day today ! For all of you Star Wars Fans you know what I am talking about ;-)  Even the storm troopers know how to behave on May the 4th !


Stormtrooper knitting
(Yes, that velvet green wallpaper was my mums wallpaper in the early 80s ...bless)


I have been burning the candle at both ends (as usual) and I have to say, at the moment there were controlled burns of the forest all around us and the smoke haze was soooo much, my body (in particular my lungs) decided to shut down and made me wheeze and cough and my temp rose to about 40 C (a mere 105 Fahrenheit for those on the other side of the big pond). In short, I was sick as hell.  So, because I have these huuuuuuuge shows coming up, I only allowed myself to stay in bed for a day.   Back to it and lucky for me, the rains have started and the smoke disappeared and I could get back to the dye room today. Much needed I tell ya, because I still have around 10 kilos of yarns to dye and label for the hand knitters guild show on Sunday NEXT WEEK ! Do not ask me how I am going to do this...it may need some super woman skills ! 

Anyway, I digress,  I have something much more interesting to offer you on this special day of  May the 4th be with you coz the sheep in this blog are super special !  I'll let you know right now: these rare sheep certainly have the FORCE with them ! So, here it is:  A  NEW rare sheep breed adventure that only took me THREE years to organise (insert hilarious smiley face)...

It has been a while since I last offered you a rare sheep breed adventure. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to support small farms and rare breeds: for the future of diversity and rare breeds it is always a choice between how lucrative an endeavor is. However, I think it is always important to see a rare breed survive not because it has a specific commercial value but how much we would lose not to invest in its survival. If we think humans are smart enough to make an educated choice, then why are so many breeds extinct just because humans choose to work more "lucratively"? Stories will be lost...and that, in my book, is not smart at all: it is depriving future generations of wealth that can never be recovered.

To organise and prepare all these rare sheep breed adventures can sometimes turn into a quest and a mission and this one is one of them for sure! There was a lot of organisational skill and sleuthing fit for a Lord of the Rings Trilogy required to get to this point. Finally, I can proudly present to you: The Icelandic Adventure!

There are not many wild or domesticated local animals in Iceland, but the wildlife and farm animals Iceland do have are very special. There are more Icelandic sheep in Iceland than people, and some farmers own nearly a thousand sheep of their own. The extensive farm land around Iceland's coast is full of them, and every summer they roam the highlands and mountains freely. They're tough, sturdy little animals, and grow lots of fluffy white wool that they use to make all their woollen goods from, also called LOPI wool. Icelandic sheep are a breed that has remained virtually unchanged for over 1,000 years, maybe the oldest and most genetically pure sheep breed in the world. Modern Icelandic sheep descend from sheep ferried by Vikings to Iceland during the 8th and 9th Centuries. Attempts to “improve” the breed by outcrossing generally resulted in increased vulnerability to disease, and so raisers on this island nation decided to keep their selective breeding attempts confined within the breed.

The Icelandic sheep is an ancient North European breed, slightly smaller than modern varieties, whose double-layered coat is uniquely suited to cold and wet conditions. The inner layer, or thel, is insulating, superlight and very airy, while the outer layer, or tog, is long, strong and water repellent. Carded together, these two layers make lopi, versatile wool used to knit lopapeysa, the distinctive traditional Icelandic sweater. Wool from the spring shearing is coarse and generally used to make carpets, while prized lopi wool comes from the autumn shearing.
The country only has one industrial spinning mill, Ístex, which is co-owned by a cooperative comprised of 1,800 sheep farmers ! Yes. a Co-OP ! It can be done ! From about 1,000 tonnes of raw fibre, the mill produces about 454 tonnes of handknitting and felting wool—about 60 per cent is sold domestically.

A few weeks after the lambing in May, sheep are sent to run free and graze in mountain pastures until autumn, feeding on the rich and nourishing vegetation. Many farmers formerly allowed their sheep to graze in outlying pastures over the summer months, but as a result of the recent reduction in flocks, animals are increasingly kept on home pastures. Farmers gather their flocks in the autumn. Usually, the round-up is carried out on horseback with assistance of sheepdogs. The process can take up to a week. During this time, participants stay overnight in mountain huts located throughout the highlands. Each sheep farmer has his own earmark in order to identify his livestock. After the gathering, the sheep are all sorted into designated pens, according to earmarks. Many people, farmers or not, come to watch or take part in this event on the last day, which is usually followed by a big celebration the same night. This is a tradition cherished by Icelanders.

Icelandic sheep are a beautiful and eye-catching breed of sheep with incredible colour variations and seventeen possible combinations of colours and patterns. Known around the world for their fibre, the Icelandic sheep provides a soft, lustrous dual coated fleece. Icelandic sheep come in a range of natural colours and patterns which provide lovely wool that is very versatile and easy to spin, making this wool a handspinners delight.

Like I said before, Icelandic fleece is dual-coated. In Icelandic the long outer coat is called tog and the fine inner coat þel. When separated, the outer and inner coats are used for different woolen products.
Tog is generally classified as a medium wool around 27 micron. It is good for weaving and other durable products.
Thel, being the finer wool and classified as such, is generally around 20 micron. Tog and Thel are processed together to produce lopi, a distinctive knitting wool that is only made from the fleece of Icelandic sheep. This process of combining medium or coarser wool fibres together with soft fibres is what I have been doing for as long as I can remember (angorino:superfine merino+angora and ofcourse the Churro with angora,)  and professionally, for about 11 years now with many other different kind of blends that adhere exactly to that prinisple. And this Icelandic process just proves the point I have been trying to make for years and sometimes made me feel like Don Quixote battling windmills: it creates a durable close to skin yarn and lovely to work with.

This Icelandic adventure however has a  sheep in focus that not many people know about.
Every farmer on Iceland may have one or two or a maximum of say 10 of these animals in their flock. Not more. All in all there are about 1500 Forystufe sheep in existence today and that is one of the reasons why this rare sheep breed adventure was so hard to organise..obviously.

What are “Forystufe” I hear you say? Well, they are also called Icelandic Leader Sheep. The Icelandic leader sheep is a separate line within the Icelandic breed of sheep . The Leader sheep were probably brought to Iceland together with other sheep at the time of settlement in the 8th and 9th century. The sheep are lightly built with long legs and not as heavy as the Icelandic sheep, but otherwise similar. The leader sheep are known for their leader characteristics and a specific sense of directions, that were highly valued traits under the extensive farming conditions in Iceland in earlier times.

The leader sheep were used to bring the flock home in bad weather during winter grazing and they are still used to lead the flock when sheep are moved to and from summer pastures. The leader sheep are now a small population of around 1,500 purebred adult sheep that are spread between many flocks, with a few leader sheep on each farm. Leader rams have been kept at the AI stations in Iceland since 1981 as an aid to the conservation of the leader sheep. They are known best for their leadership characteristics. Many old stories tell how people and sheep have been lost in the Icelandic Highlands and Icelandic storms but were rescued and brought to safety by these special sheep. They remain calm, walk in front of the flock, and are alert to any impending danger. They will even bring the sheep down early if they sense danger. A special gene pool keeps these sheep with outstanding leadership abilities alive: These sheep are only bred to each other to keep the genetic tendencies strong. They are highly intelligent. Their sense of direction and ability to forecast impending bad weather are uncanny. The leadersheep are used when the farmers move the sheep from the home pastures up to the summer grazing area and then back home again before winter. Leader-sheep are more primitive than the modern Icelandic sheep. No comparable sheep are found elsewhere in the world !

Here are some photos of beautiful Iceland and its’ Leader sheep :




























Here are two videos for you to watch :











 As the name implies these sheep were leaders in their flocks. Through the centuries they have played a very important part in survival in Iceland. The geographical location of the country makes habitation difficult, and, especially during winter, the weather is extremely changeable and often dangerous for both humans and animals.
With a growing season of only three months, hay was usually in short supply for most farmers until the middle of this century when modern farming methods increased hay yield. Animal and human survival often depended on a considerable amount of winter grazing of the sheep, which often were the only livestock a farmer had. The sheep flocks were usually driven by the shepherds several kilometres from the farm to the pastures where they scraped the snow to find whatever vegetation was available. Often the shepherds were just children from twelve years old and sometimes they had to stay with the sheep during the day. It was a tough life that required both ingenuity and strength.

The leadersheep had many qualities that made them special. Often they were very tame and loved humans, but always the other animals in the flock followed them blindly with a complete trust. The shepherd also trusted the instincts of these sheep and that trust often saved humans and sheep from certain death.
The leadersheep usually had an acute sense of the weather. They could sense change on the way often a whole day before a deadly blizzard hit. In these instances they often refused to leave the barn to go on pasture. If the weather was good and going to stay that way the leader usually was the first sheep out in the morning. If, on the other hand, the leader stayed  in the barn, not to mention if they refused to leave, it indicated bad weather. Woe the shepherd who ignored the forecast of their leadersheep.

Often, when the weather appeared good, the leader and the whole flock was forced out. In these cases the leader usually did his best to stop the flock or at least tried to delay the driving. Then on pasture they usually did not graze but stood alert and at the first sign of weather change, they rounded up the flock and headed home. The weather in Iceland is extremely changeable and often it takes less than an hour to change from sunshine to raging blizzard. In many cases when flocks were caught in that kind of a situation the leader found the way home even though the shepherd was totally lost. The shepherd trusted the ability of the sheep to find the way. A good leader would go home as fast as possible, though never faster than a speed which allowed all of the sheep to keep up. Some of the leaders were exceptionally good at finding ways over treacherous ground where the whole flock could follow. The same applied to finding fording places across rivers. Some were good at finding good places to graze in the winter. But all had an amazing ability to find their way home. Many could be trained to follow signs from the shepherd, not unlike a good dog can. Many stories are told about instances where farmers had difficulty in getting skittish sheep from one place to another. Then the leader was sent off and usually the difficult sheep followed him without hesitation.

The leadership ability runs in bloodlines and is equal in males and females. There were farmers who bred leader sheep and these were usually priced two or three times over what good sheep traded for. Bloodlines even became famous for their ability and were sought after. I have been told that leader sheep are often taller than other sheep, and often they do not have what one would call prime meat conformation. When in a flock of other sheep they can often be spotted since their heads are raised higher than others. They are usually very alert. .

During the eradication of maedi/visna (OPP) in Iceland earlier this century many feared that the leader sheep bloodlines would be wiped out. Around that time farming methods were also changing, making winter grazing unnecessary and thereby lessening the need for relying on the leader sheep. That prompted Asgeir Jonsson, a prominent sheep farmer at that time, to collect stories about leadersheep. Those stories were published in a book called "Leader sheep" (Forystufe) in 1953.

Svinavatns Surtur (Leader ram Surtur from Svinavatn) 
This happened in the fall roundup in 1884. A large flock of sheep had been gathered deep in the interior and a days drive over a mountain desert was ahead. In the morning, when the drive was to start a snowfall had begun and the weather was very dubious.
Shortly after leaving the previous nights resting place a raging blizzard hit. It was so furious that the drivers lost sight of all landmarks and could not find their way over the plains. To put up tents was impossible on the rocks and sand and turning back was questionable. It was known that Surtur, already recognized as a superior leader, was leading the flock. He had led the sheep steadily, but never faster than so that all the sheep could follow. Under these circumstances, the Mountain King (the leader of the men) decided to leave it to Surtur to lead everybody to safety, and firmly instructed his men to stick together.
When about one third of the trek over the plains was completed, Surtur stopped suddenly and came back to the men, who were behind the sheep flock. They immediately saw that Surtur's face was so covered with ice and snow that he could not see. After they had cleared his face he resumed his leading, facing the blizzard. For hours they moved steadily without any incidents except Surtur came back several times to have his face cleared.
Suddenly Surtur stopped and refused to go any further. The men found that grass was under their feet and therefore knew that they were out of the snow plains, but where they were no one knew. It was decided to stop there and put up tents, even though it was unpleasant. At dawn the blizzard abated somewhat and then the men realized that they were at the very spot where they usually stopped after crossing the sands. Every year, since Surtur was a lamb he had stopped there at this stage in the roundup. He had known exactly where to go even when the experienced and seasoned men had lost their way. When the Mountain King returned Surtur to his owner he said, that had it not been for Surtur's lead over the snow plains, several men and sheep would likely have died or suffered seriously from exposure. -This is only one of several stories of Surtur.

Kraga (leader ewe named Kraga).
In 1953, when the book "Leadersheep" was published, Kraga was still alive, born in 1944. Ten pages are devoted to several stories of Kraga. She was white, tall and a beautiful ewe. She was a leader right from her first winter.
This story is told by Kraga's owner: "One the 10th of December 1950 one of those North Atlantic blizzards hit. I had not yet taken my sheep in on hay but grazed them on the seashore not far from the farm. The evening before the blizzard I walked to my barn and was surprised to find Kraga standing by herself way back in the barn. Seeing this I decided to just catnap that night and be prepared for a weatherchange. Up to then the weather had been just fine.
At five o'clock in the morning I heard the roar from the sea and the blizzard. I rushed out and managed, with difficulty, to get the ewes from the shore. A few minutes later and it would have been too late. I also managed to call my neighbour and warn him, otherwise he would have lost several sheep. Later that winter, in early March, the weather had been good for a few days so I drove my sheep towards the mountains during the day. In the afternoon Kraga led the whole flock past the farm down to the shore where they spent the nights. One day, I was standing by the barn when Kraga came by with her flock. But instead of running past me as she usually did, she turned off the track and came directly to me. Naturally I stopped the flock and took them in on hay.

That night another killer blizzard hit". Farmers in Iceland do not use winter grazing any more. The need for leadersheep is not the same as it used to be . The Icelandic Leadersheep have a wonderful dual coat, similar to the Icelandic sheep , but I have found their fine undercoat to be thicker and more abundant than in the Icelandic sheep.

 The Icelandic leadersheep are genetically more ancient than the Icelandic sheep that have been bred more and more to be a more “lucrative” triple purpose breed: wool, meat and milk. The Leadersheep however has a totally different way of storing fat: unlike the Icelandic sheep it does not store its fat in its meat. It is extremely lean.

The milk production of leadersheep are triple that of Icelandic sheep. Because leadersheep have been cherished for their smart and leadership qualities, since they were brought to Iceland in the times of the Vikings, they have been bred only with other leader sheep.
Deemed unimportant to keep for meat purposes but more for their leadership capabilities, their milk production and their wool, may have kept this rare sheep breed safe from extinction.

For this Iceland Adventure I offer you a unique chance to spin or felt your own smart sheep yarn.

The blend I have come up has the following ingredients:

Icelandic Leader Sheep
Cashmere 
Angora bunny 
White Eri Silk 


For this adventure you can sign up for the following:

100g +  tops             Dyed    $28

100g tops                 Undyed $28

150+ gram batts     Dyed      $38
150+grams batts     Undyed $38


There is only an extremely  limited amount of fibre available to make into tops and batts. So please contact me as soon as possible. This is the only time I can offer you this adventure, there may not be another one of this significance.




The tops and batts will be sent out Start of June. All the blending and dyeing is done by hand and by myself, so it is taking a bit of time to do everything AND only have a very very VERY small supply. 


 The Inspiration COLOUR  board for this Icelandic Adventure in photos are :












Close up of the Natural undyed Icelandic Adventure tops. 
Amazing handle, wonderful to spin and cuddle up to on a cold winters night



Have a fun weekend Creating your Dreams!

Please don't hesitate to contact me at any time if you have any questions okay? Always happy to enable.

All my contact details are to be found at the end of this weeks blog entry.
Have fun !!!


Have a Creative and Fun week!

All my contact details are here:



How To Order:
1. You can email me on ixchel at rabbit dot com dot au or ixchelbunny at yahoo dot com dot au
2. Message me on facebook or 
3. Message me on www.ravelry.com  where I am ixchelbunny.
4. message me on Instagram where I am @ixchelbunny

I will email you right back with all your order details and payment methods.


Any questions? Any custom orders for yarn or dyeing fibre? : Please don’t hesitate to ask! Always happy to enable.



Dates to put in your Calendar

SUNDAY MAY 13TH 10AM – 3PM 

HAND KNITTERS GUILD OF VICTORIA YARN AND FIBRE SHOW
COBURG  TOWN HALL
BELL STREET , COBURG, 3058

I know it is mothers day  but please, if you are a mum,all you have to do is request to be taken to this awesome event and demand presents and if you are NOT a mum -like me- , demand to go this event and get pressies because we all deserve it ! See, a happy day for everybody ! LOL

A fabulous day filled with lots of yarn and fibre goodies and spindles, bowls and lots more !
An amazing day out !
Hope to see you there !
You can find the IxCHeL Stall and wall of colourful yarns and fibre at stall nr 1 and 2 at the front entrance. You can’t miss us !

Friday July 20th to Sunday July 22nd 

Australian Sheep and Wool Show, Bendigo.
Go to http://www.sheepshow.com to see what is happening and book your tickets. The Bendigo Sheep and Wool show is the biggest wool show in Australia ! with an amazing amount of woolcraft, indie dyers, a huge amount of tops, yarn, craft, felt and spindles, spinning wheels and anything you need for your knitting,crocheting and crafting.
I will be there with an amazing amount of new exclusive wool blends and yarns, batts, felt and landscape and botanical natural dyes and so much more !!!
I will also have spindles by the amazing Bearded Dragon and lots of fibre tools as well from darning mushrooms to noste pinne and needle cases to distaffs. And, there will also be some wonderful Turkish spindles from my friend Scott Snyder available again !

Get ready for a fabulous weekend filled with lots of craft and fun !!!








 RABBIT ON !
((hugs))
Charly
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