We’ve been fleeced!

Fifteen years ago, I thought a sheep was a sheep. They all had open, black faces and white, spongy wool, apart from that “black sheep of the family” that so often figures into metaphors and allegories.

Around that time, my family and I moved to Kentucky, and, during our first Christmas here, we found ourselves chauffeuring animals to and from the local church’s nativity scene. From these first interactions with sheep, I loved the animals, and I spent several years researching them before deciding to welcome a small flock to our farm.

Strauna, Stella, Yerba

Strauna, Stella, Yerba

Our flock of five sheep includes a Tunis, a Shetland, a Shetland/Icelandic cross, and twin Tunis/Icelandic crosses. When sheering them each spring, I’m struck by the diversity of their fleeces – some have two-layered coats, some have wool with lots of crimp, some leave us covered in lanolin while others seem to have none at all – but the diversity of our flock pales in comparison to the wide array of fleeces that we’ve been processing at HeartFelt.

In the past week alone, we’ve been working on fine wool, coarse wool, and fiber from hair sheep, let alone several alpaca fleeces.

In our collective culture, we hear about the value of Merino wool or “baby alpaca” fiber, but the truth is that each wool and fiber has something distinctive to offer fiber artists. Coarse wools like Lincoln might look scratchy and unruly, but their strength is commendable. Fine wools, such as Romney and Merino, might lack strength and crimp, but their softness doesn’t go unnoticed. Short, spongy staples, like those from a baby doll sheep whose wool we’ve been processing, might be difficult to card, but they felt beautifully.

In short, the next time you see a label that just reads “100% wool,” it might be interesting to consider what sort(s) of sheep once wore that wool.

Wool Fest and ARToberFest

What a week!  It seemed as though we had just gotten back from a very busy weekend at Falmouth’s Wool Fest when it was time to start getting the shop put back together and ready for Cynthiana’s First Annual ARToberFest.  And, in the meantime, there was lots to be done: raw fleeces to receive and begin processing, emptied shelves to replenish, and a busy fall to plan.

Before this past weekend, the last festival we’d attended was the Sheep and Fiber Festival in Lexington, Kentucky.  At that time, we were taking processing orders, but our mill wasn’t open yet.  It was so enjoyable to attend the Wool Fest as a full-fledged mini-mill and fiber studio.  We had a wonderful time talking to fiber artists and enthusiasts from all over the region.

As much as we enjoyed the Wool Fest, our favorite part of the week was definitely the ARToberFest.  There’s something so special about being part of a festival in your hometown, where you can spend the night visiting with long-time friends.  Several people who visited our shop in celebration last night hadn’t been through the doors since Opening Day, and they couldn’t believe how much we’d grown in the last few months.  (To be honest, sometimes we can’t believe it either!)  Everyone involved in the planning and executing of the ARToberFest did a wonderful job; thank you for all your hard work!

In other news, our fall class line-up is now online.  If you’re interested in learning more about the world of fiber art, please be sure to check it out.

And, for a more thorough look at what’s going on at HeartFelt, please check out our October Newsletter.