Monday, October 01, 2007

emu adventure

Thank you for all your wonderful comments about handspun and "Thermal!" More on that at the end of the post...

One of the advantages of being a freelance writer is that even though I'm a grown-up, I still get to go on field trips. Not frequently, but sometimes I get to leave my desk to learn about something. Then I go back to the computer and write about it. On Sunday, the professor and I wandered down the highway to check out a local attraction for an article I'm thinking about. Sadly, even though I'd known about this place for years, we'd never gotten motivated to visit. Too bad, because Kentucky Down Under is worth the visit!

As you might imagine, an Australian themed animal park would not be complete without a woolshed and sheepdog herding demonstration, and well folks, that's why I was there for the article.... the short version is that they do a good job of this. They have several sheep breeds to show visitors, a shearing stand, and in set up, it looks very much like the Australian wool shed I saw outside of Brisbane. The sheep on display are gorgeous pets, well loved and trained. This area of the US doesn't have many sheep, (more cattle) so this is good outreach!The employees there were even interested in learning how to extend their demonstration's educational value by perhaps learning to spin, so I might get to go back and help them by offering a workshop or two.
It was a bright sunny perfect fall day, and we spent some time in the sunshine checking out some of the park's other animals. There were large numbers of birds, including a walk-in aviary.

There was a petting area which included 3 kinds of kangaroos and a wallaby or two,'s most friendly emu. Apparently the emu egg was hatched by a girl scout troop as a project. They didn't figure on it getting quite so big, so this incredibly personable (large) bird ended up at the park. It molts once a year and there are hundreds of feathers. Spinners, can you say, "tail-spun yarns?" Here's a sample. I imagine this would be fabulous for an old fashioned duster too, but the novelty yarn applications just seem endless! (check out the link to the park, above, and email someone there if you might be interested!)
The landscape of the park was particularly well-done, and there was an observation deck where you could see additional sheep and...bison. There's a bison herd there, and if you click on this photo, you might be able to see one in more detail, but they were far away!
It was a great day out, and if we'd had more time to spare, we might have seen the onyx cave on-site, too. This is definitely worth a visit if you're nearby and visiting Mammoth Cave National Park.

Now, back to the Australian part. The park is owned by an Australian...and Thermal, my newest sweater project, is being knit out of Cleckheaton's Merino Bambino, an affordable fingering weight washable Australian Merino wool. I'm pretty enthusiastic about this yarn-it's finer (softer, lower micron count) than Knit Picks Bare Merino Fingering weight superwash, and most other comparable fingering weight yarns I've seen in the USA. I've learned that Plymouth Yarns carries the Cleckheaton line in the USA, but not Merino Bambino. If you're a fingering weight yarn fan, this is great stuff! Drop Plymouth a line here if you'd like to see this in the USA. In my ideal world, it would be available in the USA, and in a wider range of colors, but getting it imported would be a start!


Blogger Nancy said...

Every year I see that billboard and have only been to Mammoth...might just have to stop in next March on our yearly trek to TX!

October 1, 2007 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger sarah said...

They hatched an emu egg as a project?! Without knowing how big it would be? I am truly laughing out loud here...

There was discussion of Knitpicks yarns somewhere on Ravelry wherein several people (at least) commented that they're reasonably yarns for the price, but there are many nicer.

October 1, 2007 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger Peggy said...

Thank you for the review on Kentucky Down Under. You know I've never been there myself. Thought about taking Emma Belle but didn't know if it was worth it or not. I'm having homemade Quiche Lorraine, Spinach Quiche and Homemade bread for supper. Didn't want you to think I'm starving over here. :)

October 1, 2007 at 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any idea what the micron count is? I have some gorgeous hand dyed laceweight from Blue Moon Fibers that's 80's, but I have some roving from Australia that's 90's, so I've been wondering if there's any 90's fingering weight merino yarn out there I should know about. If this is it, I'd love to know where I could find some.

October 1, 2007 at 8:23 PM  
Blogger SueJ said...

Good fieldtrip!Interesting comments about the yarn. I doubt it has found its way to the UK but I will check it out.

October 2, 2007 at 1:07 AM  

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