A few years back we introduced Jacob sheep to our Farm and what an incredible experience; we raise them for enjoyment and a bit of self reliance.
Jacob sheep are dual purpose breed for meat and fiber. I don’t really do much with their fiber because life is pretty busy right now.
Perhaps later when I have more time that I can explore the art of wool.
I believe my daughter Felecia sees beyond the animal and captured the art of wool through Jacob Sheep. Today, I’m sharing her story and a project she completed this summer made from our Jacob fiber.
Felecia was the first to conquer hand shearing and to this day she’s still the best. I believe she saw the wool had a purpose where the rest of us simply wanted to free the animals from their heavy coat.
So, each year she gathers a little bit of wool for a blanket project.
This shearing season she asked if she could have it all because she wanted to finish that blanket. I passed along the majority and she began separating right away which was interesting to watch.
Why This Project
Felecia is a gal with many old fashioned skills and crochet happens to be one of her many talents. She was taught by both her Grandmother’s when she was around eight and picked it up quickly.
My mom showed her how to crochet on a very small hook that’s used to make doilies and Robert’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 partiular blanket 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 season of fleece and the design was based off the Granny square.
This pattern has been one of her favorites and this was a unique way to use it.
Before beginning a project of this size you start with clean fiber, sheared from an animal and then spun into a ball of yarn.
Felecia 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 shearing is finished the fiber is separated for washing. 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 hand 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’s watching, learning and absorbing more than we may 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.
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 shearing 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 each shearing season and knows the sheep of each section of the granny square.
She plans to use her blanket and when I asked 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.