The long-awaited shipment of boucle has finally arrived, after a few detours along the way. It is the most amazingly "squishable" yarn I've ever come across. To give you an idea, the 100 g balls of boucle are about one and half times the size of the 8-ply balls!
This boucle (French for "buckled") is an experiment (there's a surprise) to see if we could get a chunky, superfine yarn that would hold up to reasonable wear. The challenge is that the more fibres there are in the cross-section of any yarn, the less well it will wear, making superfine chunky yarns a bad bet. The boucle is made in a completely different way from the standard "ring-spun" 8- and 4-ply yarns. A softly twisted core of fibre is plied with a thin, tightly twisted thread to provide strength. In this case, both the core and the "thread" are made from WGW fibre, so the yarn is 100% my wool. Because my superfine fibre has so much loft, the typical loopy-ness of a boucle is transformed into a fluffy, fleecy, almost hand-spun look and feel. My initial reaction was that I want a dressing gown knitted from it. Then I thought about just how long that would take, and about the Miss Jane sweater I'm knitting for my sister that is still waiting for me to get to the bottom hem, let alone the sleeves...
Anyway, since the boucle hasn't been included in sample cards up until a few days ago, if you want another sample card, don't be shy about asking. The March issue of Yarn magazine in Australia will have WGW sample cards as inserts, but if you can't wait that long, just put in a request on the website.
The pet lambs are doing great--in fact, I think they're among the biggest lambs on the place at the moment. I'm so enjoying them. We are a highly unconventional family group of 7: me, Sabrina, the ewe who lost both her lambs and is foster mom to the rest, Felix, Clara, Vicky, Georgie and Elf.
Elf joined the group at lamb-marking time, with a badly swollen and infected front knee joint. After antibiotics, patience and a couple of Bowen therapy sessions with Ingrid Layton, he is walking more or less upright, and I think he'll make a near-complete recovery. He may always have a slight, intriguing limp, like a wounded hero. :)
As of early this week, all the sheep have been crutched and jetted to prevent flystrike. I've now moved them up onto the dolerite country, where the there is much more native plant diversity. They did a really good job on the annual grasses down in the sandstone country, but I think they are quite relieved to be back up top, where I'm not pushing them through into a new paddock every few days, and where the nutritional choices are much better. Fire weather permitting, they will stay up top for the next few weeks, rotating through larger paddocks where they can stay for a week or more at a time, rather than 3 or 4 days.
Crutching and jetting are the primary tools I have to manage the threat of flystrike. The awful reality is that if flies get into the wet or daggy wool at the breech, and manage to lay eggs, the maggots will actually eat into the tissue, and in severe cases will kill the sheep. It is the threat of flystrike that started the process called "mulesing" (after a Prof Mules from SA), where a strip of skin is removed from the breech at lamb marking, and when it heals it forms a patch of bare skin where a wrinkle and wool was previously. That bare skin is somewhat less prone to attracting flies. I personally have never agreed with the mulesing process, believing that a combination of jetting with fly-prevention chemical, crutching to remove the breech wool, and vigilance will do at least as good a job, probably better.
The jetting solution is a chemical called cyromazine, and is EU Eco Label approved. I apply it using a device called a JimJet. The JimJet is fed by a high-pressure fire-fighting pump, and is activated by a treadle board when the sheep run through it, setting off 4 different jets of solution. It's pretty spectacular to watch--and very efficient. I meant to take photos of the sheep running through it, but I got too busy actually doing the work and forgot to go get the camera. I did at least take a photo of the JimJet itself, to give you an idea of how it works. It's set in the let-out race of the shed, so the sheep go through it every single time they come into the shed, whether or not it's actually operating. That means that they go out through it quite happily, and the lambs, of course, just follow their mamas.
Wishing you all a wonderful 2014. Happy New Year!