It feels like an age ago that it was spring shearing time. Like now, the mornings were chilly but the sun was bright. The sheep were poofy fluff balls, ready to take off their winter coats in preparation for summer.
For days, I’d worked through the mountains of raw, sticky wool, sorting and pulling out debris, packing it tightly into drum liners before Mom and Steve hauled the load down to Ewetopia Woolen Mill in LaFarge, Wisconsin. It took more than one trip in our cargo van to deliver all the wool, and sometimes we were having to body slam in the last couple of bags to make them fit.
This spring’s shearing was destined to become yarn, and I had my swatch card prepared and ready, illustrating the desired colors and weights. My fiber arts students often ask if I spin and dye my own yarn, and I’m happy to admit that this is a task I delegate to folks who really know what they are doing and have the facility to do it!
Kathryn Ashley White of Ewetopia is a fiber artist as well, and she knows her yarns. She is also an excellent dye artist, and together we’ve been able to craft and build the palette that is the mainstay of my projects, classes, and kits. I love that my students and I are able to work with the beautiful wool from our sheep!
The process of cleaning and carding the wool, plus spinning and dying takes time, and Kathryn has many orders to fill including yarn for her beautiful shop in Viroqua. It can feel like a long wait as the wool is being processed, but it’s worth it! The first round of yarn (lovely aran weight) was finally ready earlier this month—and just in time. I only had 5 skeins of cobalt blue and 4 skeins of marigold left!
While spun yarn doesn’t take up as much space as raw wool, I knew we’d still be looking at a significant volume of yarn coming home, as the invoice noted this was 120 pounds of product. At 4 oz. per skein, roughly, that’s 480 skeins of yarn! I had to get busy in my studio making space—reorganizing and clearing shelves. Grandpa had given us one of his shelving units earlier in the year, and we pressed that into service as well.
Upon the return of the trip to the mill, we unloaded eight large bags of wooly color—antique rose, mulled wine, jade dynasty, cobalt, marigold, natural white, natural gray, and sky blue. Many of these are dyed in a painted skein method, so there are variations in the colors within each skein. I love how this works up in punch needle rug hooking and tapestry weaving. The shelves of yarn also serve as my Zoom backdrop. So cozy!
The arrival of the yarn certainly is just in time, with fall classes ramping up and new kits being released. If you’re interested in learning about what types of classes I’m offering that use this beautiful yarn, visit https://northstarhomestead.com/erindale-calendar/
As the nights grow longer and the days chillier, it’s an excellent time to take up wooly projects. We’re lighting the wood stove in the evenings again, which is an excellent invitation for breaking out the knitting, crochet, weaving, or felting.
Do you have a favorite yarn? What do you love making with it? This week, take some time to enjoy your yarn stash or adding to it (no one ever has too much yarn!) and picking up or starting a new project. Here’s to wonderful yarn, stashed away for the long winter to come!