Saturday, April 14, 2007

Field Trip: Sheep to Shawl

Today we went to a marvelous living history museum in Littleton, Colorado. What a joy it was to see the kids running around the historic buildings (most dating from around the 1860s) and seeing all the steps involved in going from sheep to shawl! And it was an absolutely gorgeous day to be out and about -- not a snowflake in sight nor clouds of any great amount ... just sun, sun, sun!

The Littleton Historical Museum was having a sheep-to-shawl day -- where there were activities throughout the day to show how we get from a furry lamb to a fine knitted or woven garment.

The schedule included sheep and their babies.

Demonstrations of sheep-dog herding ... did you know there is no specific breed called collie? Collies are considered any working dog -- such as the one shown here, trying to get the three white sheep to behave.

The man shearing the sheep explained about the different breeds -- prevalent at the farm today were Churros, Navajo and some Merino. A large-ish sheep's fleece, so large you can barely get your arms around it, weighed 8.75 pounds when he finished shearing.

Now this weight will be cut almost in half once the fleece is washed and cleansed of all the debris caught in the lamb's coat.

Once the wool is washed, it's sorted -- a process called skirting -- and left out to dry. Here in rather dry-climated Colorado, this wool won't take long to dry.

The wool is then combed and carded, to get all the fibers running in the same direction. Finally, the wool is spun into yarn -- using either a wheel (as shown here) or a drop-spindle.

Last, but most certainly NOT least, the wool is knitted into gorgeous garments, toys and other practical and beautiful objects.

1 comment:

MaryM said...

Beautifully chronicled. What a great day it was!