Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Mannings, sheep to shawl and more

At the PA Farm Show in January, we were able to watch the entire Sheep To Shawl competition. There were pens of sheep, looms at the ready, carders, spinners, weavers all ready to get to work as the fleece is trimmed from the animal. Tiny, black Shetland sheep, massive white hair sheep and a number of sheep in between.

We found a couple of garbage bags and filled them with fleece. Not from the competition sheep, but from the shearings in the aisle ways. An entire bag was emptied under the area where the piglets were born, with straw on top of that for an insulated nest.

The other bag is here, in the garage. Homer made 3 drop spindles, entrance equipment to spinning fleece into yarn.

There is another stage: carding. Where the fleece gets brushed between 2 very strong, densely pronged brushes. The fleece is converted to fluffy bits of wool which can then be spun into usable threads.

Carding gear is not available just anywhere. Not everyone needs it, so a little hunting is required to locate. And here in East Berlin, PA, not far from the farm, is a place called The Mannings. Their website says they have been in business for 60+ years, have added a new building, teach all kinds of classes, have a wide variety of looms, spinning wheels and all the rest of the gear needed to get from sheep to uh...anything you want to make.

Our neighbor, who does the play by play announcing of the sheep to shawl competition, is the primary instructor at The Mannings. He is a weaving teacher. He's made videos all about weaving, and in the clips I watched speaks English but wow, an entire other world of language and terms.

We will start small. The homemade spindle, the fleece given to us, selected by a shepherd in the aisles of the farm show.

And a little trip to get those brushes.

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