I was eating lunch at a restaurant in New York the other day and saw this super cute little sheep I meant to share immediately!
A sheep made of cauliflower, olives and beans! I like it!
It has been a while since I updated here as the wool is all out of my hands! Jennifer is hard at work cleaning and blending the Dorset and Icelandic so I’m left to weather another winter with my smaller crochet work to keep me company! Soon enough though the bags of beautiful fluffy wool will return from the mill and I can get felting!
In the meantime I thought I’d share this awesome picture of a knitted tree I saw a few weekends ago in Baltimore! It was outside of a yarn store and looked like the tree was quite warm. More to come on the wool progress as I get updates. So far no news is good news and there’s still another dose of Icelandic yet to be delivered!
I’m sure you have all been wondering, where’s the yurt?! Well, we’re making progress. The biggest issue we have is that we’re working with two different kinds of wool and we’re blending them to try to make the most felty combination. In order to do that we need to do some trials!
Those are each bags of one kind of wool, either Dorset or Icelandic. As you can see they’re much cleaner than they were a few weeks ago! That’s because Jennifer over at Fiber Dreams in Temple, NH gave them all a good washing. The Icelandic turned out to have quite a bit of lustre to it, it’s very pretty! I really was shocked at how white they all came out.
We took that washed wool and laid out some Icelandic and some Dorset on the conveyor belt going into the picker. The picker then got out some more of the vegetative matter and fluffed it all up a lot. The funniest part about the picker is that it throws the wool into a room behind it that just looks like it has clouds blowing through it!
That is wool, post-picker, just laying on the floor after it flew through the air. We then sprayed it with water and conditioner so that it was ready for the carder, a huge machine with tons of rollers in it.
The image above is of the backside of the picker, that’s where the wool flies through into the room. I’m not sure if you can tell but there are some gnarly teeth on that roller!
Once the wool was well conditioned we laid it out on the conveyor belt into the carder, which is a slow machine that rolls the wool around in it 16 times and gets out more debris. Once it goes through this process it’s as good as it’s going to get for my purposes. This machine spits out batts onto a roller at the end.
This is the backside of the carder, you can see towards the bottom the thin mesh of wool, that’s how it comes out of the machine and laid onto the batt.
The big white ball at the bottom is the batt itself! It’s ready for felting and, though it looks huge, that’s only ONE pound of wool…and I have hundreds. It took Jennifer and I about 90 minutes to measure, pick and card 2 pounds so for this project patience is a virtue! I’m having a bunch of people to NH this weekend and we’re going to play around with which version is feltier. Once we know we’ll have the rest of the wool done with that ratio of Dorset to Icelandic and get going on the yurt!
These cuties were standing by watching me leave, bahhing up a storm! So cute I had to take a pic, they are so fluffy in their coats!
Pardon my absence from the blog — I’ve had a remarkably busy summer so far! Last week my mother and I traveled to Guatemala with my non-profit of choice, Build a Nest. We went to visit our micro-bartering groups in Guatemala City and the Lake Atitlan region. While Guatemala has low numbers of sheep and artisans work mostly in cotton I still managed to find me some sheepies to hang out with.
Aren’t they cute! They’re pretty big, right? They live int his little wooden hut that the group built for them up in the highlands! We met so many groups, some who were seamstresses and sewers in Guatemala City and some that are traditional backstrap weavers.
I had never seen backstrap weaving before and it is intense. I have no idea how they keep their tension right and sit light that on their knees for hours and hours. On our last day we went to the city of Antigua and visited another loan recipient of sorts, the Indigo Artes Textiles Center. We learned all about organic dying, weaving and more! And the funniest part was there was a group down there at the same time from Harrisville Designs where I buy all of my yurt rewards yarn!
Overall it was an amazing trip with lots of textiles-related activities! Now I’m back at work and trying to finish up my rewards for everyone — it’s taken much longer than I thought!
Great progress was made on the yurt this Memorial Day! I took out all three HUGE bags of Dorset from the barn, set up a ramshackle skirting table and voila — we got to work. We listened to some good tunes and while my mom and dad tried to stay away and not help me at all they could resist. It was a team effort to get it all done before the rain rolled in!
That’s mom — and that’s one HUGE sheared sheep! It was the most wool I’d ever seen all connected together at once, that guy must have been a little fatty. Some of the wool was very clean and some of it was gnarly and had tons of hay in it. I tried my hardest to get the hay out but sometimes it was just too bad. I’m new to skirting so I wasn’t sure how much to remove but I think I got all the really bad stuff.
Look at that big pile of cleanish wool! We used the table to skirt, letting detritus fall below and then tossed the clean ones onto a tarp in the driveway. Needless to say, I got a little sunburned. It went quickly but not super fast.
Look how happy I am! That’s over 150 pounds of Dorset wool that’s going to soon be blended with our Icelandic! More to come, this is just the beginning!
When I left for Morocco I knew that I’d be meeting with the weavers in Midelt that Nest works with on product design and development but I never really stopped to think where their wool came from until we got there. It turns out that Hayat and her cooperative don’t own their own sheep but get their wool from a nearby town, clean it themselves in basins and then weave it. Despite this…we saw a lot of sheep action and wool techniques on our trip!
In Fes we saw this place where they were skirting wool and getting it ready for weaving. Unlike how I skirt, they just had an oversized hand rake and went after it — much more efficient!
What a machine!
I think I’m going to make myself one of these little handtools. They seem awesome!
We saw sheep along every road we drove — which was a lot of road. Sometimes they were crossing, sometimes they were just hanging by the side but everyone had a shepherd and sometimes, they’d bring a lamb and put it in our bus.
That’s my friend Penni, holding a little lamb when we stopped by the side of the road — totally normal.
The sheep had wonderful places to live — each region’s climate and topography was so different it was great to drive from place to place and see as much as possible though Tim claimed we needed another six weeks to see it all!
Today I made some major headway on the yurt’s donor rewards because I had the energy and extra hands of my new yurt intern, Cady! As of last weekend I had finished all of the individual mini-yurt gifts and had begun work on the sets of 15…but still had hundreds more mini yurts to go! Today, Cady came over around 1 and with the help of delicious pizza from Picco downstairs we managed to finish 4 sets of 15! Many were already done but I finally had time to sew them all together into wonderful pieces of wall art!
Cady is a fibers major at Mass Art, which is one of the coolest art schools there is. I’m probably one of the world’s worst teachers but she caught onto the min yurt “pattern” in no time after I failed to explain my process correctly — seriously, worst teacher. Thank goodness crochet has some regularity and predictability to it!
Look how beautiful they are! So exciting!
Get ready donors — these awesome pieces are coming your way soon!
One of my favorite things is coming across people who are also crocheting/knitting with large “yarn” or things that they improvise as yarn! Via Design*Sponge last night I came upon Jean Lee of Ladies and Gentleman. Jean is making what she calls the Mega Doily seen in the photos below out of cotton rope.
Look how beautiful that is! It would make a great carpet for — you guessed it — the yurt!
As someone who tries crocheting with every cord she sees I feel like Jean and I would get along. Her pieces though are far more intricate than my mini-yurts!
It’s Friday evening, the fundraising has hit 35% and it’s Halloween tomorrow — how does the day get better? The answer is with a peaceful photo of sheep on the water from Swans Island.
I got some scary news on the wool we have up in NH today — the mice have found it and since it’s so cold up there already they’re making themselves right at home — very soon I’ll be cleaning it out though and getting it to the mill so be warned, Mice! Your days of sleeping in my wool are almost over! Whenever the mice start to stress me out I just look at the photo and everything’s okay again.
Today I’ve been getting a lot of yurt love, largely driven from a great write up on the project over at The Daily Green! As a way of keeping my karma in check I wanted to post about Heifer International, which, if yurt’s aren’t your donation of choice, allows you to “gift” animals to people in need — including sheep!
As I’m working from Boston this week, my mom has been buzzing about doing great things for the yurt (I’m fairly certain she does this when I’m not here as she is basically the Yurt Whisperer). When I got home from a conference this afternoon she handed me the Heifer International catalog which states, “Warm in winter, cool in summer, waterproof and durable — wool is a valuable product that struggling families can use for clothing or sell for extra income…All over the world, Heifer partners are raising sheep to advance the cause against hunger and poverty.” For $120 you can give the gift of a sheep to someone who can care for it and benefit from it for years to come!