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Odds and Ends
ODD NEWS from the fiber world
BBC online news reports that sheep in Yorkshire, England, have taught
themselves to roll over metal cattle guards in order to raid village gardens.
They lie down on their sides, or sometimes their backs, and just roll over
and over the grids until they are clear.
Personally, I find this hard to believe - I can't picture a sheep who, in most
circumstances, could roll completely over.
From Discover magazine:
Fourteen years after the discovery of the pencil-shaped molecules called
carbon nanotubes, scientists are finally learning to exploit their remarkable
properties. Nanotubes are nine times as strong as steel...but they are
difficult to manipulate because each tube is just 1/350,000 as wide as the
period at the end of this sentence.
In August Ray Baughman at the University of Texas in Dallas and his
colleagues reported a way to weave nanotubes into usefully large
material. With the help of Australian wool spinners, researchers had
already developed a method to twist the tubes into long fibers...the Texas
group created sheets of nanotubes so thin that an acre of the material
weighs just a quarter of a pound.
HAIKU from Woodland Woolworks
Fabric like cardboard.
Too many washing cycles?
You know how I felt.
Do NOT talk to me.
Counting again for the third time.
Four hundred eight needed.
Who could read the mind?
Knitting silence demanded!
When she is counting.
I have peace of yarn.
Whirr. Rhythmic pumping
Wheel turns, yarn flied, I'm spinning.
Bobbin fills - magic.
Fuzzy wool fluff
Water, soap and elbow grease.
Fabric like iron.
Creative urge gone awry
Yarn mountains quiver.
Pasture turns to wool,
Earth to linen and cotton
Miracle of life.
Baa! goes the white sheep
and with a spin of the wheel
Wool gets spun to thread.
Portland, Oregon, glass sculptor Andy
Paiko has completed a functional glass
The wheel is made of over a hundred
separate hot-sculpted glass
Paiko spent 3 months working full-time
to construct the wheel.
While not a spinner himself, he is
inspired by the mechanics of spinning
wheels and "the metaphors that may
be inferred by such a well-respected
craft in relation to glass.
The glass wheel, including the distaff, is
60 inches tall with an 18-inch drive
wheel, and can be dismantled for
transport. It's for sale at
An Australian sheep continues to set records as the oldest of her species in the world - or as one
reporter put it "the toughest mutton on the planet.
"Lucky was born April 25, 1986. She was still going strong as of late 2007.
Toothless and arthritic, she lives on a farm in Australia and is fed crushed grain, grass, and milk
Her owner says, "Lucky could see me out, mate. I'm going on 78. Everyone reckons she's going
like a bomb."
Lucky died in 2009 at age 23 years, 6 months, and 28 days, the victim of a week-long heat wave.
She was a bummer lamb, abandoned by her mother, and hand-raised. She was buried under her
favorite nectarine tree.
(The first alpaca born on our farm, Autumn Sun,
died at 25 years, 7 months.)
7/24/09 The East Oregonian
A farm's size has nothing to do with its profitability or its longevity.
OSU Economist Bruce Sorte reached that conclusion after his four-month study of Umatilla County.
His 24-page report says it's due to the scalability of inputs and dramatic changes in
communications, marketing, and distribution systems.
How much Greenhouse Gas does livestock really produce?
The 2006 UN Food and Agriculture reported that 18% of global greenhouse gases are caused by
Sounds a little high.
Buried in the report is that deforestation - mainly in the Amazon - is included in that figure. Without
it, livestock's contribution falls to less than 12%.
Still a little high.
The EPA released a report: 6% of total greenhouse gas emissions is from all of agriculture, not just
Separate the emissions into two categories, livestock and non-animal, and you find that livestock
production in the U.S. accounts for 2.58% to the total.
from the Center for Consumer Freedom.
Which doesn't mean that we can't improve - buy local meat, eggs, and produce from low-input
producers, for instance. Visit localharvest.org to find farms near you.
On the other hand:
Eating Veggies Shrinks the Brain
Scientists have discovered that going veggie could be bad for your brain - with those on a
meat-free diet six times more likely to suffer brain shrinkage.
Vegans and vegetarians are the most likely to be deficient because the best sources of Vitamin
B12 are meat, milk, and fish. Yeast extracts are one of the few vegetarian foods that provide good
levels of the vitamin.
The link was discovered by Oxford University scientists, who tested 107 people between the ages
of 61 and 87. Five years later, those with the lowest levels of B12 were also the most likely to
have brain shrinkage.
It confirms earlier research showing a link between brain atrophy and low levels of B12.
Icebreaker, a small outdoor-apparel business in New Zealand, uses merino wool for all its clothes.
Icebreaker clothes will be tagged with a unique Baacode that matches it with the batch of wool
from which it was produced. The customers will be able to enter their Baacode on the website and
trace the fiber back to the sheep stations where it originated.
Customers can see the farmers and the living conditions of the sheep, follow the fiber to the
factories that knit, dye, finish, cut, manufacture and ship the garments.
Icebreaker let me know that they have a store in Portland at 11th and Burnside; their U.S. offices
are in the Pearl.
Woolly Coffins on Display in Prince's Garden
People should be buried in woolen coffins because it is a more environmentally friendly way of
being laid to rest, the Prince of Wales has suggested as part of a new campaign to promote green
living. The Prince asked for the woolen caskets to be put on display in his garden at the opening of
a week-long festival to promote sustainable lifestyle choices.
He is said to support the idea not only because wool is a natural, sustainable and biodegradable
material that will rot away in the earth, but also because it supports British farming.
The Campaign for Wool exhibit includes a number of more unusual uses for wool such as insulation
for the loft, office furnishings and fashion wear.
The woolen coffins were launched by Hainsworth Woolen Mills last summer and already more than
500 have sold. The patented line is now being sold in Europe and the United States and will soon
be available in Australia and New Zealand.
For Sale: One Red Ferrari.
The classified ad might read, "Sports car seeks permanent home, very good condition, one lady
Oh, and another important point, "Made of wool."
After traveling the world for the past five years, British artist Lauren Porter is seeking a permanent
home for her knitted red Ferrari sports car. The arty auto sculpture is named "12 Miles of Yarn"
because, well, it took that much wool to knit.
"The sculpture is more or less to scale and took about 10 months to build," said Porter, who shuns
more traditional knitting projects such as scarves and socks.
"I involved family and friends knitting squares," she explained. "I made a frame out of metal poles
which are welded together in sections. The whole piece is flat packable. Being a sculptor, this was
the interesting part for me, designing and building the piece."
"12 Miles of Yarn" has been exhibited in London, Paris and Amsterdam and at both car shows and
fine-art galleries. The time has probably come, however, for this particular Ferrari to go up on the
"I would ideally like it to be on display and enjoyed by the public but am open to any ideas,"
To see a photo of the Ferrari, go to http://illusion.scene360.com/art/16654/knitted-ferrari.
Reprinted in part from adnews.com
Sheep Cleared for Grazing at Some Airports
It's a different kind of job interview. Some major airports are interviewing sheep to help them
maintain thousands of acres of raw land.
As part of a pilot project, 100 grazing sheep (plus a few goats) are hard at work this week eating
invasive plants such as kudzu on property belonging to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International
An airport spokesperson says they like the results so far, but need to compare the costs to other
weed control measures. It will take several months to crunch the numbers and make a final
Chicago is also taking bids to hire a sheep crew at O'Hare Airport.
Goats have been munching weeds at San Francisco International Airport for at least eight
"They are hired help and used seasonally in an area that is home to two threatened species: the
San Francisco garter snake and the red-legged frog," said Michael McCarron, airport spokesman.
"The goats are easier to use than heavy equipment and we expect them to be back next year."
In 2008, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport hired a herd of goats (and three sheep) to spend 12
days eating wild blackberry bushes, Scotch broom and other weeds around the airport. They said
too many cages had to be build to protect the plants they wanted to keep so this option didn't
work for them.
From the Portland Monthly, September 2008:
"Since 1989, the beaver has reigned as Oregon's state animal...But as we near our state's
150th birthday, we want a change.
Specifically: Out with the beaver, in with the alpaca....consider that Oregon has more alpacas than
almost any other state..."
The article mentions cruelty-free shearing (beavers are trapped), valuable fleece (who wears
beaver hats nowadays?), no pasture trampling (beavers make mud pits), dispositions as sweet as
"Lucrative, green, and cute: We rest our case."
Excavations at a cave in
western Asia suggest that, as
early as 32,000 years ago,
hunter-gatherers made wild
flax fibers into cords,
probably for sewing clothes,
weaving baskets, and
attaching stone tools to
Gentler winters shrink sheep.
Weights for wild female Soay
sheep on an Atlantic island
dropped about 5% during the
past 2 decades. Normally,
bigger body size is a plus;
sheep draw on fat reserves
during winter, and larger
lambs are more likely to
However, milder winters have
swamped that trend, as more
small weak youngsters
Stolen from Ann Meriwether, to the tune of "My Favorite Things."
Rotten eggs my dog finds from the neighbors chickens
Poop on my boot from the resident pigeons
Paca spit in my eye and boy that really stings!
These are a few of my least favorite things
Giving shots to an alpaca with fiber like a poodle
Slipping on ice and hitting my noodle
Mud everywhere and all the dirt that that brings
These are a few of my least favorite things
Trying to tube a sick cria and he wiggles and thrashes
Alpacas with mites who then develop rashes
Winter is coming when will it be spring?
These are a few of my least favorite things
Oh no what's wrong with this cria?
Oh not again! He has bad diarrhea!
Ah well When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my least favorite things
And then I feel even more bad!
Angora bunnies and eyelashes on cria
Bright colored fleece and a new project idea!
Products and alpaca prices on the upswing!
These are a few of my favorite things
Cream colored alpacas with more crimp than poodles
That crimp goes all the way from their toes to their noodles
I can't wait for cria season in full swing!
These are a few of my favorite things!
Girls in knit dresses with hand crocheted sashes
Cria that pronk and race in mad dashes
Living on a farm and the fun that that brings
These are a few of my favorite things
When the alpaca spits!
And then the tractor quits!
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad
Sheep production is man's oldest organized industry with wool being
the first commodity of sufficient value to warrant international trade. In
the 1400s, Queen Isabella of Spain used money derived from the wool
industry to finance voyages by Christopher Columbus and other
In 1519, Cortez began his exploration of Mexico and the Western
United States taking with him sheep that were offspring of Christopher
Sheep were brought into Virginia in 1609. Dutch sheep were brought
to New York from Holland in 1625. England tried to discourage the
wool industry in the American colonies, but by the 1660s there were so
many sheep in the colonies that the General Court of Massachusetts
passed a law requiring youth to learn to spin and weave.
Hyperbolic space is an unimaginable
concept, unless you're a Latvian
mathematician who's handy with needle and
Hyperbolic geometry describes a world that is
curving away from itself at every point - the
opposite of a sphere, whatever that might
make it look like.
But shapes that cannot be imagined can be
crocheted by Daina Taimina from Cornell
Also from Discover:
Scientists are asking Australian farmers to report any ugly sheep in their flocks.
The "Xtreme Sheep" campaign is part of an effort to improve the quality of the country's wool.
"It might seem a paradox that ugly wool may be good, but when looking through a genetic profile,
the random genetic mistakes act like a flag, speeding up our search to find genes critical to wool
formation and synthesis."
The project asks farmers with unsightly lambs that have uneven wool, bald patches, wrinkled skin,
and other irregularities to send them to the institute for examination.
A sheep living in the median strip between two interstate highways in Massachusetts for up to a
year and a half has been safely captured.
Wandering Woolie was caught in a six-foot enclosure baited with food. Earlier attempts at capture
by the Animal League of Boston were unsuccessful, and officials were concerned that the sheep
could cause an accident if he wandered into traffic.