1. Wool gives you total creative freedom. One of the best things I found when I started working with wool was a creativity that had gotten buried way down deep. Working with wool from loose fibers thru to handspun is similar to an artist with an empty canvas. You get to let your creative juices flow and make the yarn you want to work with. When you are blending, dyeing or spinning wools into yarn there are no mistakes in the process, no following a pattern, no ripping out, just the pure joy of making!
2. All wool serves a purpose. Before I knew anything about where my yarn came from (a yarn store right?) I would walk into a shop and feel around for the softest yarns in the dyed colors that spoke to me. Once I learned to handspin and then really dove into wool at the mill, I realized all wools and sheep breeds are not created the same, yet all their wool has a purpose. This made my love for wool grow even more and broadened my horizons for ways to use wool that aren’t necessarily for next to skin purposes. The slightly itchy wool can be an outerwear sweater, socks, mittens or a hat. “No way I’m putting it next to my skin” wool can be a blanket, a rug or even a seat warmer. Playing with all the different wools helps you to learn how different they are and maybe to make something totally new to you.
3. Wool is tough stuff. Before I owned the mill I processed a couple fleeces at home and I will admit I was a little overwhelmed and terrified. So many people giving so much advice on the “correct” way to do it. It turns out wool is a lot tougher stuff than I was giving it credit for. It doesn’t have to be laid out perfectly on the skirting table. It can handle a good hot water bath even with a little movement, just no agitation. It can definitely be laid out in the sun on a warm summer day to dry. Wool is pretty tough stuff and the more you get your hands in it, the more comfortable you become with it. Don’t be afraid! The correct way to handle it is the way that works for you.
4. Wool people are good people. Finally and on a more personal note, the wool community is pretty wonderful. There is so much wisdom to be gained from the shepherds to the processors to the makers. Finding a community you feel comfortable in is invaluable. When you find those people be sure to really listen because there is so much we all have to share and so much inspiration to be found.
Kim Biegler is the owner of Ewethful Fiber Farm & Mill as well as creator and teacher of Let’s Make Yarn! an online course for beginners to learn to handspin yarn on a wheel. At the wool mill she creates handspinning fibers and yarns from locally sourced wools which can be found on her website. When not at the mill she stays busy caring for her flock of Shetland sheep and myriad of other animals as well sneaking in plenty of handspinning and knitting.