Sheep and Wool Classes

My husband and I both took all day classes at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival last Friday.  Both of us enjoy going to the wool festivals, and finding him classes helps to keep up his interests (he neither knits or spins, nor does he wish to learn), I love his company on these outings.

The class that I took was An Introduction Rare Wools with Deb Robson.  Fabulous class.  I could give long accolades about her preparation, knowledge of the subject of sheep, wool and spinning, and how absolutely nice she is.  Great teacher, take any class that you can from her.



Deb gave out cards that were used to make notes on the various breeds that we were spinning, and to attach samples.  Each breed was discussed with history, peculiarities about the wool, and instruction on how to prepare the fleece for spinning.  We flicked some locks apart and spun them, carded some, and used a comb for others.





The fiber samples were from Soay, Black Welsh Mountain, Cotswold, Lincoln Longwool, Wensleydale, Navajo-Churro, Karakul, Santa Cruz, Romeldale/CMV and Gulf Coast Native.  All of these sheep (and many more) are on the rare or endangered list for either The Livestock Conservancy (US) or the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (UK) for 2013.  Some of these I have spun already, most were new to me.  The variety of texture, length, color, luster, softness, is amazing.  My favorite was the CMV.  Wool is not just wool!!!

The large Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook I already owned, and was the reason that I knew that I wanted to take this class.  Hot off the presses was the Field Guide to Fleeces, which was the 4th thing that I picked up at the market.  Here is the review from Goodreads for this new compact book, which will have a place in the pocket of my knitting and spinning bags when I am out:

“With this compact, portable reference in hand, crafters can quickly and easily look up any of 100 sheep breeds, the characteristics of their fleece, and the kinds of projects for which their fleece is best suited. Each breed profile includes a photo of the animal and information about its origin and conservation status, as well as the weight, staple length, fiber diameter, and natural colors of its fleece. This is a great primer for beginners, and a handy guide for anyone who loves working with fleece!”




I have to also make a plug for the Dreaming of Shetland Project.  Several designers donated patterns to comprise an eBook, with the proceeds being given to Deb to allow her to spend the next year researching and delving into Shetland Sheep and their wool.  Approximately 40 patterns accompany this eBook, from all the great names in knitting and spinning.  The cost?  Just $20, what a great deal, it is in 7 sections, the first 2 have already been released.  I had only heard of this the day prior to taking this class.  Purchased this, worth the money many times over, and supports a great cause!!

“Shetlands connect to the earliest sheep, and they demonstrate what happens when humans influence a breed to fit alternate environments and to respond to economic pressures.”

–Deborah Robson

  • And while I was taking this class, Dan was taking a class on making whisk brooms.  I am so tickled by the results that he achieved.  A favorite of both of us is the broom on the right, a “Turkey Tail”.  The small bound item on the left is a pot scrubber.