I need to take time to “refill the creative well” every once in a while. Constantly pouring out words on paper can slowly drain my creativity. Every writer is different in how they go about this, but for me, a get-away trip always turns my thoughts to new story-lines and ideas.
When I learned last week, that one of the sheep and carding farms nearby in southern Wisconsin was having an open house and spring shearing event, I seized the chance to see firsthand how those fluffy coats became skeins of yarn. It was the first warm, dry weekend of the spring and I was itching for a road trip. (My husband likes to drive. I like to ride. It’s a win-win!)
We traveled the hills and hollers of southern Wisconsin and finally came to Rainbow Fleece Farm and Carding Company. It is a small operation near Madison, Wisconsin. The owners sell their yarn and wool throughout the United States.
The steps from the wool on the sheep to a skein of yarn at this particular farm are ~
- When the wool is about four inches long or more, the sheep is sheared. A years growth equals about 8 pounds of wool.
- Wool straight off a sheep is known as “greasy wool” or “wool in the grease.” It contains a high level of valuable lanolin (used in hand creams and cosmetics.)
- The wool weighed and then picked clean by hand as best as possible.
- The wool is washed until the rinse water runs clean—usually about three washings. This is called scouring and on this “green” farm it is done with a mild soap.
- It is spread out to dry in a warm area out of direct sunlight.
- At this point or any hereafter, the wool can be dyed.
- A blending or carding board is a board with small metal pins sticking up over its surface. Globs of wool are spread on the board. This is where a person can get creative with colors and textures—adding the colors wanted. (this is the part I had never heard of & found fascinating.)
- The wool is then pulled off the board in a clump. It can then be stretched out into a thread, twisted together and spun onto a spindle.
- Wa-la! Yarn!
At Rainbow Fleece Farm it was fun to watch a true working dog (Border Collie here) do his job.
I am already envisioning a story that takes place on a sheep ranch in the old West…
How about you? What do you do when you need a change or a little boost of inspiration?
A walk? A change of scenery? Baking? I’d love to hear!
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