From Fleece to Fabric


First things First. I was gifted some really wonderful shetland fleeces from a friend and her sheep.  Thus I began on this adventure to apply my hand at processing a fleece from start to finish. 

We begin on the lawn with the fleece layed out flat. Skirting the fleece is when you cut out all the gunk that just won't wash out, and the rough hairs on the outer layer of the fleece. 

I have a habit of wanting to learn to do something, and pursuing it wholeheartedly, by reading books, sources on the internet and watching youtube videos. ahhh, the internet.

 What can I say?  When I am truly interested and inspired, I just do things. I don't let anything stand in my way. 



Of course, after skirting the fleeces, I couldn't bear to let any of it go to waste, so, it is currently mulching the edges of  on of the herb gardens. As spring fast approaches I am confident it will keep the weeds around the border at bay. 

That was the easy part, on to the next step-

I will be the first to admit that washing wool is not the most glamorous task in the world. in fact, I did cringe a bit at the thought of doing this to my bathtub. 


I now wash the wool in large bins outside for the initial washes, and then bring it into the tub for the final wash with soap. I use dr. bronners castille soap- in case you were wondering.  It works well and is non-toxic and has no scent,  as to not take away that lovely smell of lanolin. 


Here we are, clean, and drying on large window screens on the south side of my house. 

I use these old window screens for a multitude of tasks, last summer they were layed out with herbs from the garden, and this winter they hold the wool.

Also featured in this photos is another one of my conquests, the willow for weaving baskets. 

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My first basket that I wove is about 3 feet tall, imperfect, and very functional. Its original intention was to hold laundry.  My husband was not entirely surprised when he found the new basket full of wool.

I have been carding all the wool by hand. Yes, I have heard of a drum carder, and maybe someday I'll possess one, but today, the hand cards are just fine. 

I like to sit and listen to books on tape, while my baby naps, and card wool. of course, this job is rather messy, so it requires immediate vacuuming when my little one wakes up. 

If Simeon (the baby in question) would stay in one general area, I would do it outside- however 18 month old toddlers rarely do. 


Trust me, I tried once. 


Next up is spinning. Pictured here is the shetland fleece mixed with the romney fleece the first day I had my spinning wheel! what a memory. the yarn I made that day was pretty rustic, but totally worked and is now a part of the sugaring shrug. 

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I spin one shetland single, and one romney single, and then ply them together to get that twisted effect. it's a really fun way to use the natural colors of the yarn and in a garment they are really special. 

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Before the yarn is twisted into the familiar shape of a skein, it must be wound from the bobbin, onto a niddy noddy. A fun tool that has bars on either end of a post that are perpendicular to each other. 

This niddy noddy was made of juniper, I purchased it from the woman who was the first owner of it and responsible for its creation. the tree from which the niddy noddy was made was found laying in the woods of montana. the log was dragged out of the woods and made into this beautifully carved, supple tool. 

the wood is unlike any other I have handled it so soft and smooth, the coloring is unique and it is an absolute pleasure to have the privilege to use. 


As time went on I improved my technique and have been able to produce some fine skeins of shetland and romney yarn. 

The yarn is woolen spun, and a worsted weight. It smells deliciously of lanolin, and whenever I wear the sugaring shrug I delight in knowing that the sweater I wear underneath, or the cowl about my neck are getting lanolized without me having to do anything extra!


Here is the fabric I created, if you haven't seen the sugaring shrug before now, I don't know where you've been. It's March! time to collect maple sap. This little number goes with me every time I go out to the maple woods, it's the perfect extra layer that allows me to move and keeps my shoulders warm. I am one of those people that, if my shoulders are cold, so is the rest of me. the thick wool is really comfortable, and because I worked on these fleeces from start to finish I feel even more at home in the woods. 

my adventures in fiber are another way for me to marry myself to the earth. to use what is given, and to not take that which is not. 

This concept i doubt is unfamiliar to you, and I am honored to say that I combine my passions and my principles to create a better world. 

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better do better.
— Maya Angelou