I have two commission pieces to make soon both include working with very local to me wool from flocks of sheep that have lived for many years close to my home. Now I need to turn those raw fleeces into long lasting textiles for the recipients. The cleaning and spinning of the wool will involve many hours of work. It is work I like but it is a chore too as a fleece is a mountain of fibre if you only have your own two hands to turn it into yarn. No magic wand to instantly conjure up these articles. The sweat and toil will be my own.
The finished threads I’ll weave with to create two throws that small children can snuggle under or build a blanket fort. Tired adults can lay across their knees or wrap around a shoulder when feeling under the weather.
Slowly over time the threads will wear and change, getting softer, maybe a few pills and tears. Over time the natural sheep shades may fade a bit and the texture will flatten and felt slightly rubbed against warm bodies. The fringes may get raggedy and short.
The sheep smell will disappear replaced by the aroma of its dwelling place.
Eventually it may become the old picnic blanket, a pet bed or a covering to protect car upholstery from wet pets and children.
After a couple of decades or so it may return to the earth. Melting slowly into the decay and providing some nutrition to the soil and small beasts.
If this thought alarms you about your Textile there are a few things you can do to extend its life.
Keep the woven fabric dry generally. Wash only if absolutely necessary in cool water and a gentle detergent. Dry flat. A gentle shake and an airing outside sometimes is good. Get children to take off their shoes when using the Textile so buckles and Velcro don’t snag the threads. Sponge with clean water any stains straight away.
Do not keep it in bright direct sunlight as this will degrade wool quite quickly.
Check your pets claws are not too long and sharp.
We makers love our pieces to be used and loved. Wear and tear is normal and each item will develop a patina reflecting its life much like its owners and the maker herself.
Is there anything more alluring to a handspinner than a naturally pigmented fleece. Or even the unpigmented cream. My great love has been fibre preparation and spinning. For years I chased the elusive goal of spinning smooth regular yarns but now I want to put the texture back into my yarns.
for a few years I have collected locally grown fleeces from the rambunctious Arapawa to the silver Gotland and sturdy Romney. A visit here and there to smallholders netted alpaca in its glorious hues and even some sublime angora.
last month I cleaned and repacked my woolshed, reboxing the best fibres. It refreshed my desire to make gorgeous fabrics from what I have here already. A bounty of local animals fleeces. I may even share some of it.
This is my new site for all things connected with DOESPINS. To read my previous blog go toHere I have decided to have one place where I’ll keep my news, views and creative activities as well as an Internet shop link.
My current work is heading away from the perfectly planned and smooth tidiness to a less controlled and more variable path with more personal exploration. I want my yarns and finished pieces to reflect the more primitive essence of the the actual fibres and their origins. Less processed and more rustic. I have always loved the natural colours of animals’ fleeces and fibres and I plan to celebrate their beauty more in my weaving and spinning. There will still be colour too since I love to blend at the spinning stage.