I credit sheep with the fact that I not only tolerate but have learned to enjoy unpredictable events beyond my control (depending, of course, on what those unpredictable events are). We have the appearance of controlling so much: devices that respond to our every tap or voice command, instant responsiveness. But it’s the living beings beyond our control who keep us humble, on our toes, patient and in good humor.
Sometimes, the sheep just won’t move. Babies are overdue, coming any minute now, and will come when they will. Shearing jobs get scheduled and rescheduled for sheep that are healthy, then not, then healthy again. Rain, the rarest thing, appears out of nowhere, glorious while also making wet wool that can’t be sheared.
I enjoy rolling along, back and forth, not in control of any of it. It can be a relief to feel like a bystander for once, akin to letting the forest, mountains and ocean teach you who’s really in charge.
Go See Lambs at Chanslor Ranch This Saturday, May 2
Two years ago, during my first trip to shearing school, I met one of the most resourceful, determined and creative women I’ve come across. Her name is Marie and she has since become a shepherd and founder of both the Capella Grazing Project and Hand Made Studio, a new fiber business in Bodega. You should support both of these projects because they embody all that’s right with the domestic wool world.
It’s lambing time for Marie’s flock and she’s been gracious enough to invite all of us along to Chanslor Ranch on Saturday, May 2 as part of Farmtrail’s Spring Tour. Marie will have lambs, wool working demos, spinning, carding, weaving and knitting. You’ll also get to meet Aries, the very un-ram-like ram, who loves attention. (Oh, how I wish all rams were more like Aries!)
Marie has a special, rare breed flock (65% Ouessant and 35% Shetland) and the coast of Bodega Bay is reminiscent of the island of Ouessant, where the breed originates. Altogether, you’ll enjoy a pleasantly visceral reminder that from the land comes the cloth.
Mushroom Dye Workshop
I learned to dye yarn with mushroom dyes and you should, too. You really won’t believe the the colors mushrooms can make. Mycopigments is offering two, day long workshops in CA on May 16th and 17th. Get thee to the dye pot!
Donna Smith’s project story includes interesting bits of Shetland history, links to related patterns and, of course, her own design and handiwork. Beautifully done and congratulations on the completion!
This NPR article on slow fashion is another promising sign that more and more people are beginning to care where their clothes come from and change their behavior accordingly.
What Normal Sheep Shearing Looks Like
With the PETA wool lies about shearing still making the rounds, it’s nice that some fine folks in Colorado took the time to make an accurate, straightforward video about what shearing actually looks like. I like that it also includes points about the ecological aspects of wool and sheep grazing, and the wonders of the natural fiber as compared to synthetic fibers, and information on the many bad things that happen to sheep that aren’t properly sheared. It is rich with information even I had forgotten.
Who are the people in your neighborhood?
Little Skein in the Big Wool, it turns out. I’m always happy to find fiber folks in San Francisco, and the founder of Little Skein is inspiring: according to LinkedIn, she took a “creative year” that grew into a business, lucky for us!
McSweeney’s does it again.
It may be a little snarky for my taste, but that’s part of the voice of McSweeney’s. I definitely attended a few knit nights reminiscent of There Are No Egos In Our Knitting Group.
Ginger Skinny Jeans Pattern
I have some indigo dyed, hemp-cotton blend fabric from A Verb for Keeping Warm that I think is destined to become a pair of Ginger Jeans, especially after the inspiration from my friend Katja.