On Thursday, October 27, 2016 I’ll be speaking to the Treadles to Threads Spinners Guild at the Thurman Casey Library in Walnut Creek, California. I’ll be talking about how I ended up funding a wool mill and the unexpected challenges of textile start-ups.
On Saturday, November 19, 2016 I’ll be speaking and teaching wool classing at the fourth annual Fibershed Wool Symposium in Point Reyes Station, California. I’ll have several fleeces from rare, heirloom breeds of sheep in our region. It is not to be missed. Get your (very reasonably priced) tickets today!
I enjoy speaking and teaching about wool as much as I enjoy shearing, skirting, spinning and knitting it. Just as I’ve done for Fibershed and the University of California, I’d love to share my passion for wool and ethical manufacturing with your fiber festival attendees, spinning or knitting guild, Montessori or Waldorf classroom, and anyone interested in exactly where their clothes come from and how fibers move from raw to worn material.
Please contact me at stephany.wilkes [@] gmail [dot] com to inquire further about themes, scheduling, pricing and more.
Below you’ll find a sample of my more popular speaking topics, all of which can be adapted to your audience size, age, context and event duration. All topics are appropriate for and understandable by most ages.
Please note that, in most contexts, these demonstrations do not and cannot include live sheep. I can, however, direct you to live shearing demonstrations that take place throughout the year in a variety of locations.
Sheep to Sweater
What is the complete process of wool production? How does wool get from point A to point B in the world? Who buys and sells wool, and why?
Sheep to Sweater covers every single step of both commercial and cottage industry wool textile creation, from the birth of a lamb to sheared, spun and sewn. Wool samples from a variety of sheep breeds and at all stages of the production process are included.
Sheep Shearing Stories
This topic focuses on sheep themselves, the shearing (wool removal) process, and what happens immediately after a shearing (how the wool is handled and where it goes next). Major points include differences in sheep breeds, appropriate climate, and the fibers they produce; sheep health, basic sheep care and well being; a walk through of a humane shearing process and why it’s designed the way it is; basic sheep handling and anatomy; presentation of shearing tools and proper attire; and funny stories from the farm (including sheep escapes and more). Raw wool samples from a variety of breeds are included.
For longer and more hands-on presentations, there are several available add-ons:
How to Choose a Fleece
When presented with a raw fleece, how do you understand what you’re looking at? Is a particular fleece of sufficiently high quality to warrant its price tag?
This presentation is especially for hand spinners and felters who would like hands-on instruction in how to identify and select high quality fleeces. As a certified Wool Classer, I help attendees learn to evaluate — hands on, with wool samples — raw wool and give pointers on the most important things to consider. I also compare and contrast the needs of hand spinners with the needs of commercial industry, which are quite different in some respects.
All About Sheep
How long have sheep been on earth? Are they really mentioned in the Bible? Why should different sheep breeds live in different places? Do they really have four stomachs? If a sheep has horns, is it male? Are all ewes good mothers?
This presentation focuses on the history and evolution of sheep, their anatomy, breed diversity (with a focus on primitive, heritage and conservation breeds), the roles they’ve played in significant historic events, their proper care and feeding, myth busting, and much more. Rich with images, maps and wool samples.