FEEDING THE SHEEP
CCBC Choices, 2011!
From The Toronto Globe and Mail, 8/28/10
"...The book's audience will revel in its rhyming words, its exuberant, luxuriant illustrations and its deeply pleasing aperçus of life on a small sheep farm."
Book of the Week, Cooperative Children's Book Center
...The end result is a story of how the sheep’s wool, which the mother shears in early spring, becomes a cozy blue sweater that she has knit for the little girl by autumn’s end. This terrific read-aloud has delightful language and a satisfying, full-circle conclusion, while the lively illustrations integrate each step of the wool-working into scenes that also depict the changing seasons, the love between the spirited girl and busy mom, and the warmth within their home. (MS) ©2010 Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Recommended, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 2010: "A little tousle-haired girl tags along after her mother, pestering her repeatedly with the same question: "What are you doing?" Outside near the shed, as the snow falls on bins and troughs, her mother replies, "Feeding the sheep." The next spread brings a season change, but the same question, and now the reply is "Shearing the wool," as Mother clips their fleece...
Each spread's text segment begins with the predictable Q&A and ends with short rhyme: "Soap and steam, fleecy clean." While the text supplies narrative shape and proper terminology, the pictures tacitly impart the information for each step. Thickly outlined figures hatched for texturing enhance the tactile aspect of the process, and the easy mother-daughter affection and playful background antics of the family pets who insist on getting into the act set a mood of cozy domesticity. If Tomie dePaola's venerable Charlie Needs a Cloak is getting a little shopworn, try this title on for size."
Kirkus Reviews, 1/15/2010"U’Ren’s action-filled, brightly colored double-page spreads convey physical exertion and concentration as well as joy and satisfaction. There is a strong sense of depth and detail, and, in a subtle touch, the little girl’s play mirrors her mother’s work. The collaboration of text and illustration is seamless and presents a complex operation in a manner completely accessible and understandable to young readers. Lovely."
School Library Journal, 3/1/2010: "...Its approach is unique, showing the loving relationship between a mother and her daughter through the seasons as the animals are fed and sheared; the wool is cleaned, carded, spun, and dyed; and a sweater is knitted. Schubert’s musical text has a predictable, soothing structure: “‘What are you doing?’ the little girl asked. ‘Feeding the sheep,’ her mother said. Snowy day, corn and hay. ‘What are you doing?’ the little girl asked. ‘Shearing the wool,’ her mother said. Soft and deep, sheepy heap.” ...Feeding the Sheep will teach and entertain the very young, and they’ll be examining their sweaters with greater appreciation."
Booklist, 3/15/2010"The physicality of the words, the fascinating facts, and the action-filled, brightly colored illustrations will capture kids' attention, as will the cozy bond between parent and child, working together and caring for their free-range animals."
Library Media Connection,May/June 2010:
...Children will learn new words made obvious by the accompanying watercolor paintings. This book also reveals that a mother can do nontraditional activities: shearing, dying, and carding wool. Recommended.
The HORN BOOK GUIDE
"'What are you doing?' the little girl asked." A young girl watches her mother care for their sheep throughout the year. The brief rhyming text highlights the stages of yarn production, from sheep shearing to spinning and dyeing wool. The final product: a warm sweater for the girl. The cozy illustrations capture the loving relationship between mother and daughter.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux; illustrated by Andrea U'Ren.
A mother and daughter discuss how to care for sheep, and throughout their conversation the mother creates a sweater to keep her daughter warm.
This is the place to find the pattern. Thank you, Mrs. Flutterby Patch, whoever you are! If you cannot get to the link, the pattern is reproduced in its entirety below.
Mrs. Flutterby Patch (I doubt this is her real name, don't you?) used DK yarn for the head, body, legs and ears and size 2.75 mm needles (US size 2). This finer needle gives the required tighter fabric.
She says: Different yarns vary in the way they knit up but here is the pattern I used. Please adjust if necessary to suit your own requirements. I experimented with stocking stitch and reverse stocking stitch, both are suitable, its a matter of personal choice.
Body - Cast on 14 stitches, knit 16 rows. With a large sewing needle take the stitches off onto a length of yarn and draw up. With wrong sides facing stitch the long edges together. You should now have a tube. Turn to the right side, stuff and draw up the open end to make a fat sausage shape.
Legs (knit 4) - Cast on 6 stitches and knit 8 rows. Cast off. Roll up the knitted piece as tightly as you can to form a tiny sausage shape and stitch down the open edge (no stuffing required). Stitch the tops of the legs to the body as shown above.
Head- Cast on 9 stitches and knit 10 rows. Take stitches off onto a sewing needle and draw up. With right side facing (because head is too small to turn inside-out) neatly oversew the long edges together. Lightly stuff the head and gather the open end. To give the head a realistic curved shape push the threaded needle from the nose end through the head and out of the top. Pull until you have the required curved shape then fasten off. Decide which end is better for the nose and stitch the head to the body (see picture above).
Ears (knit 2) - Cast on 3 stitches and knit 2 or 3 rows. Remove stitches onto sewing needle and draw up, this makes the pointed end of the ear. Oversew down the ear to the base and stitch it to the top of the head (see picture above).
Now you can give the sheep a face. I used embroidery floss.
Now comes the fun part...dressing the sheep. You can create different coats from different yarns, in other words anything goes!
I used 3.75 mm (US size 5) to make a soft fabric.
Basic coat- Cast on 10 stitches and knit the required number of rows to wrap over the sheep's back from one side to the other. Cast off. Fold in half and with wrong sides facing. Stitch together the edges at one end to form the back end and a very short seam (about 1cm) at the front. This will fit under the sheep's head. You must leave an opening large enough at this end for the sheep's head to pass through. Turn right side out.