Wool really is the most amazing fiber. It's renewable, repurposable, sustainable, compostable, naturally absorbent, insulating, naturally mold and mildew resistant, water repellant, fire retardant... The list goes on and on!
Sheep came into my life many years ago on something of a dare. When we moved to our current farm, I thought we needed some farm animals (other than horses and chickens). I wanted sheep. My partner, quick with the wit, suggested she needed a pair of hand spun, hand knit socks. That spring we were on the road to pick up our first three ewes. Fiber love is a slippery slope. Sheep lead to spinning wheels and carding machines and looms that take up valuable floor space in your house. It also brings an unsurpassed warmth and natural beauty. It does not necessarily bring sock knitting skills.
You may have heard the term "slow fashion". This term means a lot of different things. We make what I think of as true slow fashion with our wool. To me, true slow fashion means that the maker is intimately involved in every step of the process. If animal fiber is involved, they know the names and faces of their fiber providers. Here on the farm we do every step of the process except shearing the sheep. I have a wonderful shearer. He takes good care of my animals and what took me an entire day when I tried it, takes him about 3 minutes. Happy sheep, happy shepherdess!
The rest of the process to scarf, dryerball or piece of art is all me. It is a true S L O W process.
- Skirting - removing the soiled fiber and obvious dirt and vegetable matter from the fleece
- Scouring - small batches of fleece are soaked in buckets of hot water and special soap to remove dirt and lanolin. *I do this on warm days so that I can bucket the water to plants and trees on the farm.
- Drying - the fleece is dried on slotted trays in our Colorado sunshine
- Dye - the fleece is dyed with a variety of methods. We also take advantage of the natural colors of our fiber
- Fluffing/carding/combing - depending on the final project each batch of fiber is prepared in the best way for its intended use
- Spinning - after being prepared the fiber is spun into yarn.
- Weaving, knitting or felting - some of our yarn is sold directly to knitters, crocheters and weavers. Other skeins are woven or knitted into goods that we offer for sale. Some fiber is processed into felted sheets, resembling fabric, and then sewn into bags and other projects.
- Sustainability is very important to us here on the farm. I collect every bit of usable but not spinable project fiber to make dryer balls. Fiber that is not project quality is used to mulch our garden and stuff our outside dog beds.
There's just something about touching every part of the process along the way, a pride and satisfaction. And then there is the joy of sharing this collaboration between the sheep and myself with others.
If you are interested in learning about fiber processing or purchasing fiber, contact us here.