I had always wanted to see a sheep shearing, but honestly, I want to keep my shoes clean. We went to a shearing demonstration in New Zealand in 2018. It was informative, a little sheep-y smelling, and we enjoyed it as much as the tour groups that were there. The floor was concrete, I bought a double espresso before I went in, I took photos of all the baby animals, and I learned a bit!
You can get the same sort of experience from reading Sheep, Shepherd & Land by Anna Hunter. The photography by Christel Lanthier is a decided benefit! Shoes clean and learn about sheep, raising sheep, and all the associated things about sheep farmers you maybe didn’t know you wanted to know.
As a definitive city person, I can tell you I loved the stories and the bits of knowledge that came to me through reading this. I hope there is another book because I want to know more.
Sheep Are Important to Us
We all come to fiber, knitting, spinning or whatever you do on our own path, and have various amounts of knowledge. These stories are a delightful dip into sheep farms, shepherds (in this case all women), and sheep in Canada. A lot of the information imparted is useful to those of us who are never going to raise sheep, and want to keep our shoes clean. Breed information, and how and why each shepherd chose the breeds they raise. Each of the farms has used sheep to improve soil, plants, and the farms themselves, and some to sustain breeds in danger.
Whether you are a casual knitter, a fiber enthusiast, or a fiber professional you will benefit from the stores that explain our fibers and their shepherds. Once you begin to see the subtle differences in fiber types, how fibers are raised, and the special characteristics, you cannot help but bring that to your fiber experiences.
I’ve been participating in the #slowfashionchallenge2023 on Instagram. It struck me how easy it is for us as knitters to be a part of slow fashion (knitting is inherently slow!) by giving thought to the producers at every level of our fiber experience: shepherds and sheep, mills, dyers, designers.
Buying the best yarn you can afford should include suitability and price, and the final outcome you desire: don’t buy delicate yarn for something you plan to wear a lot! Workhorse wool isn’t suitable for making a drape-y shawl. When you consider what you want the outcome to be, then look at what the options are to filling those needs, “expensive” may reveal itself to be quite different from dollars spent.
More than Sheep & Fiber
Each shepherd profiled in Sheep, Shepherd & Land brings passion to their enterprise which is evident in their yarn and sheep-related products and how they came to do what they do. You can bring the same to your knitting when buying your inputs by taking time to learn about the passion that goes into what you use so you can make the most of it. Knowing something about the fiber can give you something to think about while the yarn slides through your fingers. I am always a little thrilled when there is a little vegetable matter, an irregularity in the spinning, or something else that leads back to the origins. Dyers can take you on an entire trip just observing how the applied color creates other colors, and how the colors move into and out of each other. All of this is at your fingertips!
I should note that I donated to the fundraising for publishing this book.
Designs Inspired by New Zealand
Kaikoura Cosy is available in 11 sizes.
Queenstown Hats offers five sizes, and three gauges.
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