So when we first moved to our farm in the summer of 2012, we had never owned sheep before, and in fact I knew next to nothing about their wool except that I LOVED the beautiful wool coat my mother had. It was thick, it was cozy, and the beautiful natural colors gave it an absolutely stunning look.
It wasn't long before we were able to purchase our first sheep. A white suffolk, a multicolored suffolk-cross, and a chocolate brown down-cross were the first wool breeds to make our place their new home. What beautiful wool! I had also received a few fleeces from the farm that had sold us the wool and was soo looking forward to making yarn, or felt, or whatever it was that you could make with wool. But I had absolutely no knowledge on how to deal with the fleeces. So for a few months, the fleeces waited in large bags in our workshop while I researched...and researched...and researched. I watched videos, read articles, and visited farming and sheep supply stores. And then when I felt as though I could not wait any longer, we picked up a few items from home depot and my father, with his ability to whip things up pretty quick, made me a drop spindle.
Most people would look at a drop spindle of any kind and go..."Your gonna make yarn with that thing?" and in all honesty, they are not gorgeous...or overly impressive looking tools. But they work! And I was so excited to be able to start spinning the wool! Shortly after we had purchased the supplies for the drop spindle, we had also picked up some beautiful hand carders, and so I was set.
Let me tell you, when you first start to spin, on either a drop spindle or a spinning wheel, the yarn comes out looking...well...awful. It is lumpy, it is thick in places, super thin in others, and the amount of spin on it is so incredibly high (or low) that it is good for absolutely nothing. Not only that, but if you have not thoroughly washed the wool with a soap that pulls the grease from the wool, it clumps together, is hard to card, and you end up with lanolin all over your hands. However, despite my horrendous looking first tries, and my poor wash jobs, I really liked it. It was most often quite soothing to simply sit and spin for hours (although sometimes extremely frustrating) and I felt I was slowly making progress.
Then came my spinning wheel. Oh my goodness...wow. It was so lovely, being made completely out of wood and having such a simply design that made it so easy to learn with. It's been a real blessing. Spinning on a drop spindle is great, and you can get a considerable amount done in several hours if you get really good at it, but a spinning wheel made the process so much more efficient for me. I could do a lot more all at once because of the bobbins that had come with it, and it was so easy to ply the wool, which made it just perfect for me.
All in all, it was quite the learning curve to get to the point where I was spinning my own yarn and I spent many hours sighing and sitting with my head in my hands, wishing that I could improve faster. But it was absolutely worth it.
Now, a couple years later, the yarn it straight and even, the wool that comes out of the wash bucket is clean and easy to card, and the products able to be created with the finished yarn are endless! It is not a job that can be done in a short period of time, and so my work days are very long, but seeing a family friend of ours wearing the very first hat I sold, solidified my desire to continue making beautiful creations with the wool that is processed right here on the farm!
Hope you enjoyed learning a little of my journey,