Argo the Amigrumi Sheep was the April Crochet Along pattern for the dc2tog forum on Ravelry. Margo was soon crocheted out of a leftover skein of chunky weight Welsh Mountain fleece spun Navajo 3 ply. Some had been dyed with an unknown mushroom, the rest left plain.
Cracking pattern from bowtykes. Time to make another, this time spinning some fine wool for a smaller sheep. I still had a few Gotland locks left from Wonderwool last year. Sorting out the darkest and the lightest from the spectrum ought to give an authentic contrast between a Gotland sheep's body and its legs and face.
Combing the longer locks required hazardous waving of arms, nearly had someone's eye out, there. Still, the drafted roving was much easier to spin semi-worsted, when compared to the version of roving I made previously on hand carders. The singles were fine enough to try making my first real 3 ply from three bobbins and still have a fingering weight result.
Gotland fleece has a wonderful lustre. I was very impressed with myself for creating these balls until I tried crocheting with a 2.5mm hook. The plying was too loose, so my hook kept splitting the yarn. Making the sections below took two whole evenings fiddling about. It had to be a tight fabric, because my ultimate object was to make a pincushion.
Mum told me that back in the day, pincushions stuffed with raw fleece were highly prized, because the lanolin in them stopped pins and needles from rusting. I stuffed the head and body firmly with cold washed raw fleece.
The legs of this sheep were made a bit longer than the pattern specifies, hoping to get a more typically Gotland shape. While Margo is a local Welsh Crossbreed, Elinor the Amigrumi is pure Gotland fleece from a sheep also called Elinor who lives on this farm in Mid Wales.
I left the two of them out on the back lawn and went in to make tea for me and BG, who had popped over for a craft evening. While Margo was ruminating just where I left her, when I glanced across from the patio, , Elinor appeared to be reading the paper. I hurried over for a closer look. She was doing the crossword. What is more, it was The Guardian Cryptic.
"Where on earth did those glasses come from!"
"Dolce and Gabbana, Beaut.
10 across must be 'syzygy'."
"BG, this sheep just spoke!"
"Yesterday's news, Beaut. My first speaking part was in 'Silence of the Lambs'. I know. Ironic." She cleared her throat.
"I'm parched. Is that tea?"
Over a cuppa, Elinor was happy to indulge our questions. What a life she has had! Thrust into the limelight when only a lamb, her local Nativity Play became a runaway success, transferring to the West End, then Broadway. Afterwards, she was inundated with offers, but her agent turned out to be a disaster.
"Bloody fool had me screen test for 'The Big Sheep' and 'A Sheepcar named Desire'. Who knew the man was dyslexic?"
The poor ewe barely had the price of a Long Island Iced Tea when she met a kindred spirit in Dolores of the Panopticon. Having discovered a mutual interest in the works of Euripedes, Dolores hooked her up with an outfit of cabaret artistes performing on a Transatlantic Cruise Ship. During a stopover in Athens, Elinor returned the favour. Blagging her way into the European Congress on Ancient Greek Theatre, by dint of pointed questioning from the floor during Professor Dioxades' Key Note Speech, Elinor exposed wholesale plagiarism of Dolores' dissertation. After her celebrated savaging of the Prof's academic credibility, returning to Wales was a serious comedown. The flock reunion did not go well and Elinor never was suited to the pastoral idyll.
"Fair play, bringing up triplets is a challenge when you've only got the two teats."
Was that a tear glinting in her eye, as she polished her specs? Perhaps a moment alone would be tactful. I wondered if Elinor would prefer to stay outdoors, but she pointed out that Gotland Sheep are shorn in winter and feel the cold.
"A slug of something in this tea wouldn't go amiss." The sloe gin my family refused to drink at Christmas brightened her up no end.
Since graduating in Drama and Theatre Studies at Aberystwyth University, her career trajectory has regained momentum. Elinor's most recent work was in stand up on the Comedy Circuit in Cardiff.
"No picnic, but a better gig than flock scenes in Pobol Y Cwm, and as for Lambing Live ... with a prolapse like mine, I can't get the work." It seems she is currently resting, keeping a low profile after her scathing monologue on the Welsh Assembly caused outrage in the Senedd.
"Devolution? Half of them can't spell the word. Political satire - more like shooting fish in a barrel, Beaut. Don't talk to me about upskilling the agricultural sector."
Elinor has made herself at home. She already feels like one of the family.