An unfortunate marriage ago I lived on a 35-acre farm and realized a dream I’d had since I was in my twenties, when I lived for a year on the Navajo Reservation in a tiny settlement in the Four Corners region — to have my own Navajo-Churro sheep.

When I first met my then-husband-to-be, he had spent a great deal of money to landscape the massive front yard and finish the house. The several acres behind the house were generally neglected except for a few rows of sweet corn, which he had been selling to a local grocery store. One day as we sat on the back deck, I told him about my dream of sheep, and I was pleasantly surprised that he met this idea with a great deal of approval. “I always wanted to have sheep,” he told me, “There is a breed of expensive Irish sheep I want to ship over from Ireland. They’d make the property look more like an estate, like a picture I saw in Architectural Digest.” I talked him out of that idea (my idea of sheep was quite different than something to make the property look more “palatial”), and after a bit of research and a few phone calls I made contact with a Navajo-Churro breeder in southern Ohio, only a few hours drive away. She sent me pictures of the lambs and yearlings that would be available — I spent weeks poring over those pictures, and finally selected 2 rams and 2 ewes. I then worked with a carpenter neighbor and we built a very simple sheep shed and painted it barn red, purchased hay and feeders and electric fencing, and then made the trek to bring home my sheep. It was one of the most wonderful moments of my life, that first afternoon in late winter, seeing the four beautiful animals exploring their new home.

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Two years ago I spent the summer spinning a lovely soft 2-ply alpaca yarn.  One singles is from hand-painted roving I purchased at the Great Lakes Fiber Show, the other some luscious high-quality white I had left over from a previous spinning contract gig.  This past winter, as my mother’s 85th birthday approached, I came across this Victorian Fingerless Gloves pattern from Knit Picks and decided I’d see how my yarn knitted up.

One thing to always remember about handspun yarns is that they rarely conform to standard yarn classifications. The only way to know how it will knit up is to make swatches.  For those of us who are normally too impatient for swatching, it’s an absolute must when using handspun.  Just adjust your needle size until you get a swatch that matches the pattern requirements. And because there was so much color-change in the yarn, the lace detail wasn’t as apparent as it would have been with a single color, but the yarn knit up beautifully. Those of use who knit with handspun expect a bit of unexpected variance in the results.

I don’t know about you, but it seems that I generally start and rip out a new pattern three times before I manage to get it right.  After those initial trials, the pattern knit up surprisingly quickly, and I loved the picot edging stich — I’m sure to use it again in another project!  I finished both gloves over a long weekend, and was quite pleased with the results!

And so was my mother.