It Starts With A Sheep...

Sheep

Since ancient times, humans have used sheep's wool to produce a variety of textile products. To fully appreciate the value of today's store-bought wool sweater, one must consider the incredible labor of love required to raise sheep, and the effort it takes to shear these majestic animals yearly. Once a sheep is shorn, the length of its entire coat is layed out as a fleece.

Shorn Sheep with Fleece

The Fleece

At first, the fleece is full of grass and other debris incidental with the sheep's outdoor lifestyle. Then begins the careful process of skirting the wool to remove initial debris by hand. The fleece is then washed, and finally carded to remove additional debris and to straighten out the fibers.      

Fleece with Debris
Stages of Carding Wool

Carded And Ready To Spin

Wool Roving

During the carding process, the straightened wool fibers are aligned lengthwise into long bundles with a slight twist, at which point it is called roving. Once roving is bundled, it is ready for spinning.

Spinning

Wool on Drop Spindle

Roving can be handspun into yarn by using a drop spindle (pictured above), or a spinning wheel.     

Ball of Yarn
Wool on Spinning Wheel

Weaving

Once the yarn is produced, it can be set on a loom and woven into tapestries, blankets, shawls, and other textile products. The table loom below shows a beautiful array of colors, which can be achieved by dyeing the yarns prior to weaving. Yarn can also be used in knitting, crocheting, and many other fiber arts techniques.  

Yarn Weaving on Loom

To learn more about our programs for educational and community settings, click here >