Evergreen Students for Sustainable Animal Agriculture

  (Olympia, Washington)
pastured lamb
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Wonderful Wool

Today E.S.S.A.A. hosted a fiber arts workshop as part of the Synergy Conference at Evergreen. Through this workshop we brought the wool sheared from our sheep to those in the Evergreen community who want to use it. A local fiber artist led the workshop and shared her knowledge and resources with us.

 

We started with dirty wool from our sheep. 

 

The first step was to sort the wool into 'really dirty' and 'reasonably dirty' piles. 

Everyone learned how to wash wool. It went quickly with so many hands! 

 While the wool was soaking, we learned how to make and use drop spindles with old CDs.  

After the wool was washed we learned about carding. On the left is un-carded, freshly washed wool. The extra fluffy wool on the right is what the same wool looks like when it has been carded. 

 

This is a drum carder. We also got to experiment with hand carders, but the drum carder certainly cards faster.

 

Then, the wool was ready to be spun. Look how white and fluffy it was! Like sheep-scented cotton candy.  

Everyone who wanted to got a chance to try spinning on a spinning wheel. Spinning wheels are so much fun. If you haven't tried one, I thoroughly recommend it. I am still very much an amateur but I had a blast. 

 

And, just to show you what our sheep can do, here is a sock made out of their wool.  Pretty cool. 

 
 

Shearing

We sheared all the sheep this weekend! It was hard work, but we worked through it together, taking turns and helping each other. One person would hold a sheep while one or two more sheared and a third took the opportunity to trim the sheep's hooves. While this may sound like an efficient strategy, it took hours to get the shearing done. Professionals can shear a sheep in a matter of seconds. We are far from professionals, taking forty-five minutes to an hour and a half to shear one sheep depending on the breed. Our Romneys were the biggest challenge. Still, the sun was shining and morale was up,keeping everyone going and gaining shearing experience. I'd never sheared a sheep before, so every moment was a learning opportunity. We'll be professionals in no time, or perhaps a little more time than that. 

 
 

My First Yarn Ball

A few nights ago I got to try carding and spinning wool. My friend Bailey has a spinning wheel and carders and gave me a lesson on how to use them. As if that weren't exciting enough, she was able to get wool through Evergreen from our sheep. I showed her pictures of the sheep that grew the wool she works with and she showed me how to work the wool from the sheep that I help to grow. It took a bit for me to get into the rhythm of the spinning wheel. I had to coordinate the pumping of my foot with the spinning of the wheel and the movement of my fingers through the wool as it wound together into yarn. 

Pretty impressive, right? I thought so until I saw the yarn balls that Bailey spins. Turns out they aren't necessarily supposed to have all those lumps and size variations. But as Bailey says, imperfections in hand spun yarn are beautiful, or so I'll keep assuring myself until I get a little more practice. 

 


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