Thursday, October 25, 2007

From Sheep to Sweater


I decided to sponsor two crafting clubs at school this year, knitting and One-Stroke Painting. It's been a wonderful experience and the students reinforce my decision constantly at work. They approach crafts differently from a lot of adults, who tend to bring their insecurities with them into the classroom. Young people love to work with their hands and have not lost that sense of wonder at creating something new. I have over 30 students in each group, which means they don't all have chairs to sit on in my classroom. They don't seem to notice, much less mind and happily sit in groups on the floor, chatting and crafting. Their contagious enthusiasm keeps me going and involved with crafts even when I don't have time at home to do my own painting or knitting.
I took students from both clubs to the Charles B. Aycock Birthplace in Fremont, NC on Tuesday of this week. We had a great time and learned to dip candles. Since there were so many of us, we dipped our strings, then kept moving in a circle until it was our turn again. By then, the candles had cooled enough to dip again. I can now appreciate life back in the late 1800's and the fact that I'm living now. The students had a great time as did the teachers and parents who went. If you haven't visited this historic site, please do. It was a real education. You can find their website at http://ww2.esn.net/aycock/. The staff were extremely nice and very well informed.
While we were touring the site, we had a chance to see the farm animals which are kept there for demonstration purposes. Of course, I had to ask about the sheep. I thought I remembered that they did their own shearing, so I asked a staff member. He said they did and in fact, they were planning to demonstrate this the next day. I asked what they did with the fleece and was told they usually just threw it away after the demo. Well, I couldn't resist hinting that I'd love to have it. They saved it for me! I now own a beautiful cream and yellow sheep's fleece. I was so excited, I didn't mind staying up until after 11:30 last night to wash it...and wash it... and wash it. I think I counted about five times. Thanks to Woolite, it is a little more pleasant smelling. I never knew you could find so many different things embedded in a sheep's wool!
The challenge I have given to myself is to convert this fleece into something wearable by next spring. I'd also like to take some of the carded fleece to school to give the students a chance to try their hands at the drop spindle. I took a lesson in this at Clara's Yarn Shop in Winterville last summer. It was fun to learn, but I'm not really good at it. Maybe I'll give it another 'whorl'. What I'd really like to learn is to spin on a spinning wheel. I'm hoping I can get a more consistent texture & ply than I am presently getting on the drop spindle. Clara's has moved to the internet, but you can see her beautiful hand-dyed and hand-spun yarn at http://www.ncdragonflydesigns.com/aboutstore.html.
My next step after the wool dries is to purchase a couple of combs to card the wool and remove the rest of the small 'stuff' still clinging. There is another very nice yarn shop in New Bern called the Weaver's Web Gallery which is only about a forty-five minute drive from here (602 Pollock St, New Bern, NC). They have the combs and also offer spinning classes. Plus, it's always an excuse to shop for yarn. I'll keep you posted on my progress:)

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