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A Friendly Flock to Knit

Knit your own wooly companions with Nancy Bush’s Estonian sheep pattern.

Kate Larson Apr 22, 2024 - 3 min read

A Friendly Flock to Knit Primary Image

Need more sheep in your life? Knit your very own flock. Photos by Matt Graves unless otherwise noted

About 10 years ago, I had the great good fortune to travel to Estonia with author Nancy Bush. One of the many amazing stops we made during our visit was at the farm and studio of Anu Raud. Raud is renowned as a weaver, teacher, and preserver of traditional Estonian handcraft.

Anu Raud’s museum, school, and farm in Estonia. Photo by Kate Larson

I was able to see a trove of antique knitted textiles worked in colorful stranded knitting, stripes, entrelac, and more. Anu Raud uses this collection to inspire her students to incorporate traditional Estonian motif into their modern makes. One of her lessons challenges knitters to pair Estonian stranded-knitting patterns—steeped in cultural meaning—with the playfulness of knitted animals. Stuffed cats and pigs are swathed in bright, wooly stitches usually reserved for mittens!

Are you ready to get knitting?

A Sheep of One’s Own

In 2003, Nancy Bush added her contribution: a little sheep design published in PieceWork. The pattern offers three different stranded knitting motifs, all of which come from areas not far from Anu Raud’s magical farm in Estonia.

A strong yet lofty wool yarn is ideal for knitting these small sheep, which are about 6 inches long. The sheep shown here are knitted in Brown Sheep Nature Spun sportweight. This round, elastic three-ply yarn is easy to work into a dense fabric, and the loft and crimp in the wool fills in stitches nicely so stuffing will not show through the fabric.

Nancy’s pattern includes three stitch-motif options.

As a shepherd myself, I’m grateful for Nancy’s ovine contribution to the Estonian-animal menagerie. I can knit a sheep on small needles in a cheerful Estonian palette and think of the day I saw Anu Raud’s own flock resting in a copse of birch trees. I’ll think of seeing Anu weaving in her tapestry studio. And I’ll think of walking through the farm gardens with Nancy on the finest of June afternoons.


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