Friday, August 2, 2013

The Sassy Ewe - Sue Ann Carpenter

~ The Sassy Ewe ~
Sue Ann Carpenter

For several years, Sue Ann Carpenter simply admired the Karakul Sheep she would see at the MSU Rare Breed Livestock shows. In 1988, Sue Ann finally gave in and purchased 4 karakul sheep. A ram named Fire, and three ewes, which she named Flame, Fudge & Freckles. These Karakuls were “off colored”, which means “other than black”. Later that same year she picked up 5 more ewes and another ram.

The following year, 1989, Sue Ann's son, Dan, decided he wanted to show Southdown Sheep in 4-H. By this time Sue Ann had learned to spin and was becoming more educated about the wonderful characteristics of the Karakul fibers. The fibers were natural colored, long, and spun wonderfully.

Remembering the beginning of her fibery journey, Sue Ann laughs. Then says that she had a wonderful mentor in Marie McFadden of Marshall, Michigan. Sue Ann was to discover that Marie had some ulterior motives of her own. Good Motives, to be certain! Over the years Sue Ann purchased 2 spinning wheels and took over the task of promoting wool within the Calhoun County Sheep Club.

To quote Sue Ann, “The more you do, the more you learn.” She learned to pick (clean the debris/hay from) and wash her own fleeces. Not all mills are able to process the long fibers well. Each type of wool has its own characteristics. They feel differently from one another. Have different strengths, lengths, and specialty uses. For instance; in addition to spinning Karakul for knitting or weaving, it felts wonderfully.

Previously she had been paying someone to dye for her. However, the colors where not what she hoped for. Sue Ann began dyeing her own fibers. Not only was she able to achieve the colors she wanted, this helped to keep her costs down. Which results in savings for her happy clientele. Her colors are bold, deep, rich...they have life. Can you say YUM-MY?!

Sue Ann specializes in fibers from both Karakul and Southdown sheep. To supplement her offering, she also uses wool from various other breeds; along with other natural fibers. Most often these fibers come from other local sheep breeders. Sometimes she blends these in the roving. At other times plys the fibers. The resulting product is an exceptional experience in color, texture, and earthy goodness. If you are interested in a truly decadent experience, you can arrange for Sue Ann to have some of her Southdown made into bats. These luxurious bats make a an exceptional comforter. Not only are they unbelievably warm – they are light and airy. No sweating or suffocating necessary. Southdown wool breathes! It is a heavenly experience.

Sue Ann has shown and exhibited sheep at both local and state levels. Currently she has 9 adult Karakuls, (which includes the 15 year old, Miss C!) and 6 Karakul lambs. She also has 24 adult Southdowns and 13 Southdown lambs.

Sue Ann Carpenter, AKA – The Sassy Ewe – is a favorite among her peers and the public. She has a wonderful product. She is a true lady and an exceptional woman. While out and about, Sue Ann is always happy to share her time and her knowledge with inquiring minds.

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