Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Looking Back on 2015

Let's get caught up on some of the highlights of the last eight months! First of all, we were blessed with 10 healthy lambs in the spring, each one a different colour or pattern or shade of fleecy loveliness. Our Shetland rainbow is expanding.
Shirley with her two boys Finlaggan and Fergus behind;
Kir's lambs Flora and Fletcher in front

Faroe and Freya
In early June the flock was sheared. What a beautiful harvest! Yes, some of the old girls have fleeces like steel wool, and a few of the younger ones have a gift for getting all kinds of vegetation stuck in their fleece, and then there is the occasional oddity like Eddy -- his long ringlets are interesting, but certainly don't conform to Shetland breed standard -- but on the whole we are pleased with the way our fleece is developing.  We entered fleeces in the wool competition at the All Canada Classic in June and the Manitoba Fibre Festival in October. Thanks to Daisy and Daiquiri for their prize winning fleeces, both of which sold at the wool shows.

Daisy, freshly shorn
Once the lambs were all happily cavorting and busily growing, Linda had her second knee replacement surgery in June. She was back on her feet in no time and hard at work fixing fences and building feeders.

Over the last year, Linda's creative energies have been focussed on writing. Finally we all get to share in the world of The Gryphon Saga as the first books in the series are published. They are available in print and as e-books. You can find out more about about this exciting project (and order the books) through the Gryphon Saga website.
Linda with her books and some dragon friends at ComicCon
The Manitoba Fibre Festival in early October was a fun event, and it gave us a chance to show off some of our sheep in the Hall of Breeds. We took two 5 month old wethers, Fraser and Fig, who turned out to be wonderful ambassadors for the Shetland breed. They also made an appearance on early morning television to promote the festival. Fraser was already an old hand in front of the camera, as he had a cameo role in an episode of the TV series Sunnyside when he was just a few weeks old. If you catch the show, watch for the scene where apparently a robed figure is ascending to heaven with a lamb in his arms. That's our lambie!
Fraser (grey katmoget) and Fig (mioget)

In September, Margaret drove to Fibre Works Farm in Alberta to pick up two new sheep, a black ram lamb and a black gulmoget ewe lamb.  We now have the genetic variety to develop our breeding program without having to bring in any new stock for some time. What we don't seem to have locally yet is much of a market for purebred Shetland sheep, so until that develops we are slowing down our production. This year (as long as the fences hold) we are only breeding two ewes. So many wonderful possible pairings, it was really hard to decide on just two! 

We do have wool! And we've put a lot of it together into kits for the Painting with Fleece class that Linda will be teaching on January 24. Would you like to try your hand at needlefelting? The information is on the Needlefelting Classes page of the website.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Waiting for Lambs

We are all waiting impatiently for lambs! The early twins are ready for more playmates and these ewes must be getting tired of carrying those heavy loads.   Any day now ...

Monday, February 2, 2015

Need Some Quality Fibre Time?

The Norwood Naughty Knitters are hosting classes at the Norwood Community Club, 87 Walmer Street in Norwood Flats, and we are very pleased to be taking part.
Linda will be there to teach needle felting.  Or, learn to spin your own yarn on a drop spindle with instructor Joanne Seiff.
Join us for a pleasant Sunday afternoon in good company with lots of hands-on fibre time.

Click on the 'buy now' button to register, or email us at cloverleaf(dot)fibre(at)

Needlefelting Classes 
with Linda Glowacki

Sunday February 22  "PAINTING WITH FLEECE" 
1:30 - 4:30 pm

Explore texture, colour and design in a whole new way through the art of needlefelting. The technique is simple - strands of coloured fleece are applied to a woollen fabric background using a special barbed needle - but the possibilities are endless. Linda will provide a choice of designs as inspiration for the picture you will create in this class.

Your new skills can be used to decorate clothing and accessories, to embellish quilts, and to create your own unique fibre art.

The fleece provided is from the Leafhaven backyard flock of purebred Shetland sheep, in a delightful range of natural and hand-dyed colours.

Cost: $50  includes fabric, fleece, printed instructions, and felting needles.


Sunday February 22  LEARN TO SPIN ON A SPINDLE        


1:30 - 4:30 pm
Taught by Joanne Seiff

Handspinning with a spindle is an ancient craft that is still important even today. Everyone in a household, including children as young as four, used to help spin yarn that clothed the family and kept them warm! Join Joanne and learn a bit about wool and learn to use a handspindle to make your own yarn. When you leave this class, you’ll own a spindle, some practice wool, and you’ll be able to practice spinning at home.

Note: This class is all you’ll need to begin spinning. It’s also a great introduction to the skills you’ll need if you decide to learn to spin on a spinning wheel.

Cost:       $60
This includes: a $30 materials fee for a beginner’s spindle, wool and other materials and a $30 class fee per person

About the instructor:   Joanne Seiff is a co-organizer of the Manitoba Fibre Festival and the author of Fiber Gathering, a book about fiber festivals, and Knit Green20 Projects and Ideas for Sustainability.  She’s been spinning for over 30 years-- and knitting longer than that!  Her writing appears in Spin-Off Magazine.  Her handspun yarn and fiber art has been sold in galleries and won awards at state fairs and in art competitions.  She teaches throughout North America at sheep shows, fibre festivals, and yarn shops.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Black Hole of Shetland Colour Genetics

I love thinking about Shetland colour and pattern genetics. The more I read, ponder, and observe, the more I am willing to accept that we just don't have words for the endless variations in colour shades, other than "Wow, isn't that gorgeous!"  There are eleven named main colours of Shetland fleece, but in fact those colours are just points on a continuous wheel of colour. I have a project in mind to take samples of all our fleeces and felt them into a sampler showing some of the range in our flock. Oh right, first I have to get the rest of last year's fleeces actually washed.

Below are three of the girls who we hope are growing lambs right now. You may be surprised to hear that all three are genetically black sheep. 

Each of these ewes is black based, with a different pattern or modification affecting the fleece colour. Shirley, on the left, shows the grey pattern. Her fleece is a mix of black and white fibres appearing light grey. Kir, at the back, is registered as shaela in colour. Shaela, in my understanding, is a solid dark grey, probably caused by a modifier gene. Because Kir also carries the recessive gene for brown her actual fleece colour is -- well, I just don't have a word for it yet -- kind of a delicious dark brownish grey. Bryn, on the right, is a grey katmoget, with typical dark underside and interesting facial markings. Her fleece is a mottled grey. We know she also carries the brown or moorit colour because her first lamb, when bred to our ram Nonsuch (Sunny) is our beautiful Daphne, a fawn katmoget. Happily, Daphne has a much more correct tail than her mother.

Let's just take a moment to admire Daphne's adorable lamb butt, and remember the green grass of summer. Ahh.

Her front end is pretty charming, too. This picture illustrates the katmoget facial pattern, but really I just want to look at lamb pictures. 
Happily, Daphne has stayed this friendly and is always ready for a scratch and a fleece fondle.

The other two ewes have also been bred to Sunny before. Both Shirley and Kir produced twins in more or less the same colour/pattern as themselves. But what will they give us this year? The possibilities include black, grey, moorit, shaela, emsket, mioget, katmoget, and more. And there are two more ewes in the breeding group still to consider. Cairo and Beatrix add white, gulmoget, and spots to the mix! No wonder I love to think about this. The genetics are fascinating and each experiment is embodied in the sheer joy and wonder of lambs. 
Erica and Emaleigh, Cairo's twins from last May. Now that's it, no more lamb pictures until spring. Happy new year from the whole flock.

- Margaret

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Breaking Colour Rules

Margaret goes on (and on) about dyeing --

I dye small batches of fibre in a slow cooker. Using the crock pot method means less worry about boiling the dye pot too hard or too long. Also I am less likely to poke and prod and stir -- too much agitation will felt the fibres together.

Linda's artwork requires many shades of colour so that she can achieve the depth and texture she wants.

In order to get the widest range of shades out of one dye pot, I need to ignore all the dyeing rules aimed at achieving smooth even colour. I don't pre-soak the fibre, and I cram it into the dye pot so that there is little room for it to move. Different natural colours of fibre go into the pot for an assortment of heathery tones.
This batch started out with a medium grey and some white fleece. When it was nearly done I added some more white fleece to absorb the last of the colour.  This low immersion method of dyeing uses little water, and all the dye ends up in the fibre. When the fibre is removed the dye pot is clear and ready to be re-used for a different colour.
Again, this pot of orange/gold dye held both grey and white fleece.

The two examples above are commercial acid dyes, fixed with vinegar. Here is a sample of white fleece dyed with goldenrod. The colours from natural dyes are so  wonderfully soft!

It's always exciting to see the transformation of colourful fluff into something unique and magical.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Summer Shopping in the Exchange

We are excited to be part of this pop-up shop project opening tomorrow on McDermot Avenue, in the historical Exchange District in Winnipeg. The Exchange Uporium comprises an eclectic mix of local, hand made, and vintage treasures. Thank you to Patty and Eve who have imagined, curated, organized and inspired this beautiful ephemeral space.

We love our wall space in the shop where some of Linda's wall hangings can be displayed.   (My hurried photo does not begin to do it justice.) Stop in often throughout the summer. This will be a vibrant and ever changing venue. Open Monday to Saturday 11 - 7; Sunday 12-5; and open later during First Fridays and festivals.  Closed on Victoria Day, Monday May 19.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

On Tour

Linda's felt wall hanging "Storm of Myth and Magic" is on tour!

"For the Love of Craft" makes its debut at the Heritage North Museum in Thompson, Manitoba for the month of May, 2014. Curated through a collaboration between the Manitoba ArtsNetwork and the Manitoba Craft Council, the exhibition comprises 15 works by 15 artists in a variety of mediums, including glass, ceramics, metal, fiber, wood and paper which were selected by jury from the Manitoba Craft Council's 2014 Member Exhibition and Sale held at the Cre8ery Gallery in Winnipeg. From Thompson, the exhibition moves to the Carberry/North Cypress Library in Carberry, Manitoba for the month of June 2014.

That's a detail from the hanging in the upper right corner of the poster.

Here is an overall view of the piece: