Several of our district 4-H sheep members came to our house today for a 'fibre workshop' - a chance to see first hand all the neat things you can do with wool.
Hanging around the room were knitted and woven things of many descriptions: shawls, bags, scarves, mats, and even a knitted blanket. Piled on tables were hand dyed and naturally coloured fleece batts and skeins of handspun yarn. Work in progress was on the loom, the wheel was ready to use, three drop spindles awaited students, and boxes of wool and llama and alpaca fibre were set out for everyone to feel and compare.
We talked about the different types of fleece, and how to recongize a good fleece when you see one - and how to raise your sheep so their fleeces have more value to spinners. We stuck our hands in boxes of wool and discovered lanolin, and crimp, and the flyaway fuzziness of the non-wool fibres that lack lanolin. We tried hand carders, combs, and the drum carder, and got everyone to spin a bit on the drop spindle ... and one of the sheep leaders to spin on the spinning wheel!
Last but not least, everyone was given a bit of yarn and some knitting needles (sharpened and sanded chopsticks) and shown how to do basic garter stitch knitting. Several of the kids did really well, and a few were so deeply engrossed in the work that they took their needles and wool home for further experimentation. One girl fell in love with the wheel and had to be pulled away by her mom when it was time to go home ... I sent her off with a drop spindle, as I sense a new fibre addict in the making and I want to encourage that when I see it!
The sheep leader who set up the event offered to bring me a 'bag of wool leftover from last year', and I said that wool is always welcome in this house!
I was expecting, say, a garbage bag full .... not a fifty pound burlap sack!
The first fleece from the sack is already soaking. :) Woohoo, more wool!