The Art of Wool

A few years back we introduced Jacob sheep to our Farm.  I basically have them for enjoyment and a bit of self reliance.  I don’t really do much of anything with their fiber, it does interest me and perhaps when life offers more time I shall explore the art of wool.
 

I find it fascinating God created an animal that offers many avenues of self reliance.  It’s a blessing to raise and watch the impact these sheep have had on our family at different times.
I believe my daughter Felecia sees beyond the animal and has captured the art of wool through Jacob Sheep.  Today I’m sharing her story and a project she completed this summer made from their fiber.

Felecia was the first to conquer hand sheering and to this day she’s still the best at sheering. I believe she saw the wool with a purpose where the rest of us simply wanted to free the animals from their heavy coat.

After gathering the fiber from this year’s sheering season she wanted to know if she could have some for her blanket project she started the last year.  I passed along the majority and she began separating right away; it was interesting to watch.

Why This Project

Felecia is a gal with many old fashioned skill sets and crocheting happens to be one of them.  She was taught by both her Grandmother’s when she was a young child.
My mom taught her how to crochet on a very small hook that’s used to make doilies and my husband’s mom taught her how to make the Granny square pattern.
Felecia was a quick study and started making hair scrunchies, scarves and blankets using retail yarn. When I asked her why she started this project, she said “I was sick of making scarves and we had all this fiber.”

The Blanket Design

The blanket is a basic granny square; and we happen to have a sheep named Granny.  Felecia said in the beginning she had one fleece to work with and the design was established as she went along basing it off the Granny square.  This pattern has been one of her favorites and it was a unique way to use it.
Before beginning a project of this size you start with clean fiber that was sheered from an animal and then spun into a ball of yarn. Yes she did all that too and I’m going to walk you through her process.
I would call this a process of patience where many generations of talent were involved and the result transpired something amazing.

Washing the Fiber

After the sheep is sheered and the fiber is separated, it’s time to wash.  Felecia takes a plastic bowl, adds 3 squirts of dish soap with two handfuls of fiber, and then adds boiling water.

While wearing rubber gloves she washes and rinses three times.  The dirty water is cooled and tossed in the garden.  The clean fiber is stretched out on towels to air dry; it takes about 8 hours to dry.

Fluffing the Wool

You’ll love this when I asked, “Why don’t you card the wool?” she said, “I’m too cheap to purchase an $8 carder.”  I laughed and realized after watching her go through each strand of fiber there was more to this process than just cleaning out small specks of dirt.

She loosens the wool piece by piece allowing small particles to fall out.  If you look in the photo above notice the container of white fluffy fiber, it’s clean like a cloud of cotton candy.  That’s what I call patience and determination.

Spinning the Fiber

When we first moved to our farm we had the pleasure of attending a fiber field trip with a homeschool group.  This was before we owned sheep and I thought it would be a neat opportunity for the kids.
It was a great day and we went as a family to Fancy Fibers Farm.  This is where Felecia watched Mary demonstrate how to use the drop spindle, I’ll never forget it and months later she started reading books on spinning and we got her a drop spindle.  She started spinning her own fiber and enjoyed it.
It’s a neat memory watching a talented person share their skills with the next generation.  Sometimes we forget there is always one in the crowd that is watching, learning and absorbing more than we may take notice in that moment.
Felecia explained that the first two threads in the yarn are spun clockwise, and then joined by spinning counter-clockwise using the drop spindle.

Crocheting

To make the blanket she uses a large crochet hook viewed in the first photo to make the granny square. She modified it a little using two chains instead of three so the blanket doesn’t ripple; this allows it to lay flat.

I had to know which part of the process she enjoys the most.  She mentioned the most familiar parts, crocheting and sheering is the neatest.  “You get to see results instantly and what looks like a brand new coat when you finish.”

She has spent over 100 hours on this project and says, “I have more patience than I thought.”  Of course I wanted to know how she maintained those patience, she said, “You take breaks one evening and do other projects that may be smaller to help you feel like you’re moving forward, it helps you appreciate what you’re doing.”

A Blanket of Memories

Sometimes I think when we start projects large or small there is a greater process that occurs.  I know since finishing this blanket Felecia has enjoyed using it and admiring her efforts with a humble smile.

She mentioned it’s a memory of our farm; she remembers being a part of sheering each sheep and knows whose fiber it belongs to.

She plans to use her blanket and when I asked her if she’ll be making any new projects in the future with fiber she said, “I might just go back to making scarves. This takes forever.” but also added, “I’d like to make a wool coat experimenting with weaving.”

The art of wool speaks volumes and what a blessing to see so many shared skills transpire through one very talented and creative individual.  I’m a blessed mom to have an amazing daughter.

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29 comments

  1. Amanda Black says:

    Great job Felicia! You definitely have more patience than I do, and the blanket is beautiful!!

    1. I will let her know and I agree way more patience than I – I tried to help her fluff one day but there was no way and I didn't do it right anyways. LOL – Carole

  2. Kathi says:

    That's so beautiful. I wouldn't have the patience either, but I'm really impressed that your daughter does and that she used it to make something so gorgeous. I love that she knows which sheep contributed the fiber in each part. What a great memory piece this will be.
    Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead

    1. Thanks Kathi – very kind message and that made her smile. She is very proud of this project and it will be a nice memory as she is getting ready to move on with her life in just a few weeks. She's heading to Army Bootcamp. Thanks for stopping by to share. -Carole

  3. Anonymous says:

    That is really neat! I learned to use the drop spindle in college, and remember sitting on the top of the refrigerator (yep, six feet up in the air) to spin. Made for one very long strand down to the floor- when I did it right, one quick flip of the wrist brought it back up to me for the next pass. But I never did make anything with the spun yarn! Felecia is amazing. Hooah! Go Army! 🙂 Trish V.

    1. I'm glad you like it Trish. I can't imagine spinning from the top of the fridge – Thanks for stopping by to share I passed along the message. She smiled. 🙂 -Carole

  4. MaryB says:

    The blanket is gorgeous, and I am so proud of her! When she gets stationed somewhere, please send me her address. I have a loom I want her to have. It's called a Journey Loom. It's basically a combination of sticks that can be put together to be woven on, then disassembled for travel and easy storage. I think she'll enjoy it, and can weave in whatever part of the world the Army takes her to!

    1. Awe thanks – I completely agree and very thankful for you sharing your farm and talents that afternoon. I remember it was a cold day and my husband and son were holding your cat. Felecia will look you up – she'll be home before the end of the year so maybe we can make it out to your shop and bring the blanket so you can see it. Thanks again you're a very talented lady. -Carole

  5. How beautiful! We are preparing our farm for alpacas and can't wait to have my own fiber to spin!

    1. How exciting that farm we went to where Felecia learned to spin raises alpacas. They're cute animals. I have a couple llamas just use them to protect my sheep. I'm hoping after the kids leave home I'll have more time to explore the art of fiber. Feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to watch her make this blanket. It was amazing! -Carole

  6. I really enjoyed this post…so interesting to read about the process. While this is far different than quilting, the time involved in a long-range project such as a quilt made entirely by hand and then hand-quilted is long-range too and many quilters take a break and have smaller projects going on …I think that is to maintain one's sanity 🙂

    Her finish is absolutely gorgeous ….congratulations! 🙂

    1. Thanks for stopping by to share – I bet your quilts are beautiful. I hope one day I have enough patience to sit and accomplish something hand made but I think if I were able to just make a scarf that would be something. -Carole

  7. Oh wow…what an amazing project..I think this is so neat…to actually totally make a product, from start to finish, WOW. Anyone can go to the craft store to purchase yarn, but to actually MAKE it..WOW! Thank you so much for sharing with us at Party In Your PJs.

    1. I was very wowed by this project too! It took great patience, talent and determination. So neat to see what you can accomplish when you have a goal. Thanks for stopping Felecia will enjoy reading your comment. -Carole

  8. Lady Locust says:

    That is beautiful! Good girl. It is a big undertaking that she will be proud of for a very long time.

    1. I completely agree- A treasured projects she can share with future generations. -Carole

  9. Karen says:

    I'd call that lots of patience and determination too, and what a lovely pay-off! It's encouraging to see a young person undertake something that is not an "instant" project and produce something useful and satisfying. She did a fabulous job, and you're a blessed mama! Thanks for sharing at Wake a Up Wednesday!

    1. Agree – very blessed! Thanks for stopping by to share – I'm hoping one day I might have the same kind of determination to create something so amazing. -Carole

  10. Sassss says:

    Beautiful blanket, beautiful memories, beautiful daughter! Thank you for sharing them! I've done seed-to-table-through-winter, including using some food & herbs to make dye, then dying fabric, sewing & wearing. So, I'm familiar with the effort, time & dedication required, & Felecia is definitely to be commended – and such a lovely result! But, I have to say it – I think I'd have broken down, after the first few batches of fluffing, and bought a set of carders! LOL!

    1. Love it – she was wondering if anybody would mention her getting a carder, LOL – The Dedication is key I agree thanks for stopping by to share -she'll enjoy this comment. Hope you have a great week. -Carole

  11. This looks so good! You are so talented. Pinned. We had so much fun partying with you at our last party. We hope to see you tonight's party at 7 pm. We love to see what you have been working on! http://loulougirls.blogspot.com/
    Happy Monday! Lou Lou Girls

    1. Thanks for the reminder I will see you then. I wish I was that talented my daughter made this project. Hope you're having a great Monday too! -Carole

  12. Carol, Congratulations! You are my FEATURED FARMGIRL on the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop this week! This week's hop is live and waiting… I loved this story and your are such an inspiring gal! Just had to introduce you to my readers!
    Hugs,
    Deb

    1. Oh wow – I just went over to your feature – I'm humbled and so is my daughter. I love how you write – the wording just made us both smile. I'm sharing and pinning this feature – it's my all time favorite. You're awesome and I'm keeping an eye out for your posts. thanks so much! -Carole

      Oh and I love your Fall header – your photography is great!

    2. Hello again, Carole ( with an e on the end this time) ! I want you to know I've gone in and corrected the spelling of your name in my post! Shame on me… In my excitement for writing your feature, I overlooked some spelling details! 😉 Forgive me? Hugs, Deb

    3. LOL – This is funny because I've ran in to this my whole life and it doesn't bother me a bit. So yes forgiven! When people ask me how to spell my name now days I just respond with however you like. I like to keep things simple. I figure it's just a name. Have a Great weekend! -Carole

  13. You are amazing, I love this wool project you did with the sheep hair, Thanks for sharing this on Fabulous Friday Party
    Thanks Maria

    1. This was my daughters project – she's the amazing one. Glad you liked it – had fun sharing it. -Carole

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