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Friday, November 25, 2011

100% wool

It's pretty late on in Wovember (if you're not up to speed on Wovember please do pop across to Kate and Felix's fabulous site, and then pop back again) but I've finally got around to picking out the contenders for my contribution to the Wovember gallery which features many amazing photos (mostly of beautiful sheep) illustrating the idea of 100% wool.

Contender #1
The fleece!

Taken at the Oxford Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers fleece day back in 2010, this is a fabulous Oxford Downs fleece - that's local fleece for local people.

Or we have this series of photos from the OGWSD's fleece to blanket day in 2009. Held at an idyllic smallholding in Bledlow the guild took the fleece of a dearly departed sheep, graded it, spun it in the grease, and knit it (also in the grease) into blanket squares.

Grading the fleece

Here, Carol is showing us newbies how to skirt a fleece.

Spinning in the grease

I'm not sure anything says 100% wool quite like 15 or so industrious ladies all spinning away at the same time. You can see that pile of fleece on the floor has got quite a bit smaller.

Knitted squares

The finished-ish product. You can see how crisp those square are with all the lanolin still in them.

Shorn Kendal Rough Fell sheep

Also from 2009 we have a photo of freshly shorn Kendal Rough Fell sheep at Woolfest which was just the sheepiest knitting event I've ever attended. Not only were there a high proportion of breed specific vendors there (it was the first time that I came across Garthenor and Blacker yarns) but there were rare breed sheep actually in the same space as the finished yarns. It was fantastic to see the connection being made between the sheep breeders and the end users in this way and I know that Felix, Kate, Lara and I all came away feeling very inspired.

More recently I even managed to find some sheep whilst on honeymoon in Australia. I know I shouldn't be surprised to come across sheep in Australia, the place is swarming with them, but I felt pretty lucky to find a herding and shearing demonstration quite by chance at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (we had gone for the koalas after all).

Herding merino sheep

Sheep shearing in Brisbane

I love watching sheep being sheared - it's an amazing skill to be able to manhandle a couple of hundred pounds of sheep in such a way that the sheep is entirely docile throughout and the fleece comes off in one beautiful piece. I prefer the character of Shetland yarn for knitting and spinning but there's no denying that merino is soft.

One bag full (of merino)

Any thoughts on which of these I should submit to the Wovember gallery?


tinebeest said...

My preferences: the newly knitted squares, the freshly shorn black-and-white sheep, or the first one showing the big fleece.

the other pics are certainly about wool, but I'm assuming we're going for the aesthetics of the photographs?

LuisaM said...

To me it is the 2nd one.
The wool dominates the image and everybody is looking at the wool in admiration.