Turning Wool into Yarn

Tess, Ma, Zelda and Socks, Suzy
Tess, Ma, Zelda and Socks, Suzy

I didn’t even get near my studio today.  I spend the morning in my office, packing up scarves for shipping and freezing my fingers.  At one point I went downstairs for a hot cup of tea and Jon suggested I get one of the portable heaters plugged in. (as in many old houses, there’s no heat upstairs)  It’s not that I hadn’t thought of it, but I didn’t want to admit that the room which  only weeks ago was unbearably hot, was now starting to get unbearably cold.  When I plugged in the heater and my fingers started to move freely in the warmth, I seriously wondered what was wrong with me to hold out so long.

After lunch I went to Post Office  and chatted with Wendy at the counter.  (Since I work at home,  getting out to do my shipping can  sometimes be the social high point of the day).  Then to the Co-op for a tomato, bananas ( the organic ones, that taste so much like a banana that they make me think of  those orange marshmallow “peanut” candies that taste like bananas) and a couple of locally made chocolate mouse yogurt (reallyreallygood).  After leaving the bank (another social activity of mine, but today it was after hours so I just got to talk to the ATM) I drove by Jon’s car parked in front of George Forss’ Gallery where Jon was taking a photo lesson.  Then it was back upstairs to make labels for my wool and sort through my orders.

By now it had warmed up, the  afternoon sun, not as strong as in the summer, but still coming in the windows.  I lined up the wool on the guest bed.  Each label with the name of the sheep the wool came from, the yardage and ply.   Suzy, 200 yards, 3 ply, DK.  Tess, 200 yards, 3 ply worsted.  Ma, 200 yards, 3 ply, worsted.   In the back Zelda’s and Socks bumps, almost opposite colors.

Looking at the processed wool, then going outside and visiting the sheep I wish I could make them understand what it’s like for me to be able to see them in the pasture everyday. To get to know them as well as I can know a sheep.  To take care of them and  then to use the wool off their bodies to sell to people who will make it into mittens and hats and sweaters.

I didn’t grow up on a farm, I grew up in the suburbs and the idea that a person would make their clothes out of the hair on an animals back can still seem alien to me.   Just like I still look up in awe and get a tug in my heart when the Canada Geese start flying, I think it’s going to take me a long to get used to the idea that me and the sheep are making yarn and sending it out into the world to have a whole new existence.
I hope I never get used to it enough to take it for granted.  I hope I can always see it like I do now, kinda magical, like turning straw into gold.

All the Sheep's Wool
All the Sheep’s Wool

14 thoughts on “Turning Wool into Yarn

  1. It is a very fun and remarkable process – I don’t think you’ll ever look at it differently, no matter how many times you get to do it.

  2. Wonderful, Maria! Perhaps one day you may want to try spinning from your own flock. I try to never let my knitting hear it, but there are days when I love spinning more than knitting. There is nothing better than spinning an entire fleece and then knitting a one of a kind sweater from it. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Maria, I think you have a good thing going there with the wool and the sheep…it’s a win/win situation…Jon gets to write about them and photograph them, you get to care for them and in the end, they share their wool with you and with your customer friends. As to the extent of your social life, it sounds like mine here in the country. I have enough stimulation during the B&B season with guests and admittedly the winter can be pretty quiet but I don’t know that my ‘city’ friends really understand how my life and social outlook has changed since moving to the country. For me, too, going to the bank is a social part of my day; going to the grocery store and so on. I meet people, we chat, my spirits are lifted and by the time I’m back home I wouldn’t trade my ‘social’ hour for all the cocktail parties that I used to attend and couldn’t stand…mostly because of the superficiality of it all and the fact that my pantyhose was usually strangling me.
    It is getting colder here as well in Southern Ontario and the wood stove is on in the familyroom. Soon the insert will go on in the living room to heat the front part of the house and upstairs. My life is one predicated by the seasons, and by smaller pleasures than when I was striving to keep up with city life and all that went on there. The country quietly answers a need in me for solitude, peacefulness but also, a recognition of finding a way of stimulation for myself. It sounds as though we lead somewhat parallel lives.
    SandyP in Canada

    1. It does sound that way Sandy. I like you comparison to cocktail parties. I didn’t think of it that way, but wow, Wouldn’t I rather have those conversations at the bank and grocery.

  4. This was an absolutely lovely blog post! I am not a knitter anymore, but I adore yarn. Your photos make me want to push my hands into the skeins and feel the warmth and texture of the wool. The yarn is beautiful. And I know that one other blessing is that the folks who buy your yarn read your blog, and have gotten to know the sheep vicariously, so they, too, can appreciate the miracle that their sweaters and mittens started out as “hair on an animal’s back”.

  5. A day in the life of Maria. What a fun read this was. Jon isn’t the only one in the family that knows how to express himself and hold a reader’s interest.

  6. You know what, Maria? I’m thinking you should write a book about your experiences and adventures on the farm. Give Jon a run for his money. I love reading your blogs. 🙂

  7. I too loved reading about your day and I can picture you going to those places and interacting with people. Wouldn’t a book be fun!
    Working from home means getting a lot more done because you aren’t distracted by office politics (most of the time). But it does make you treasure those small social interactions too! I love going to the library across the street for a book or video and a conversation with the librarians there. Or buying a lunch sandwich at the market around the corner, a walk to the post office, catching up with a neighbor when I take Tess out for a break. I wouldn’t trade my social life either.

  8. Orange peanut candies… Circus Peanuts! Who on the blog lets them get just a little stale before eating? That’s how they’re the best.

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