Getting ready for spring
Liz visiting with a Wensleydale lamb from Roy and Myrtle Dow's Black Pines Sheep in Eaton, Colorado, at the Estes Park Wool Market in 2013.
While it might be a little early yet, I am ready for spring. How could you not look forward to the reawakening of the world after winter's slumber? The grays and browns give way to sprigs, and then fields, of green. And for spinners who love wool, spring often means lambs and freshly shorn fleeces.
In many farm communities, spring is the the time of the year when shepherds open their farms, offering open houses and shearing days to get to know potential customers. For years when I was just learning about the wonders of wool, I attended the annual shearing day hosted by the Beemer family at their Ewe Bet Ranch in Loveland, Colorado. It was an amazing chance to meet the family, see their Rambouillet sheep up close, and, occasionally, be recruited into skirting fleeces and trimming hooves. For a new spinner born and raised in the suburbs, it was eye opening and gave me a whole new appreciation not only for the processed wool I purchased but also the raw fleeces I see at fiber fairs. It also established a relationship that continues today when I see the Beemers at local fiber shows.
Now that I work at Spin-Off, my appreciation of the work that is done by local farmers has only grown. While I have yet to purchase an entire raw fleece, I have been building up relationships with additional local sheep farms working towards taking the plunge. I'm hoping this will be the year. I have also been watching and re-watching Judith MacKenzie's Three Bags Full video. I love that in this video Judith not only goes over what to look for when buying a fleeces (and goes over what to look for in primitive, longwool, and medium and fine fleeces) but also how to sort and wash the fleeces once you get them home. The video has been an incredible confidence builder.
So, as temperatures rise and seasons change, I look forward to spring and finding the right fleece from a local farm, with hopes to be washing and possibly dyeing it in my backyard by this summer.