All great art is a form of complaint. - John Cage

Most anarchists are gentle people.
-Anna Zilboorg

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Today was Shearing Day at Sweet Home Spun - and the launch for a project I have been working on for the last four years.  A long, long, long time ago, I wanted to knit a sweater for a sheep.  Specifically, I wanted to transform a sheep's fleece into a sweater for that same sheep.

First, I had to learn how to knit: 

As I headed down that road, I came to know some special master craftspeople.  First, I met Angie.  Angie Mobley.

She was our teacher for Parent-Child classes at the Waldorf school here in Louisville, Kentucky.  (I think she might be a sorceress.  She passes her hands over any given material and suddenly: a bit of magic.  Here is the link to her blog:  The Indigo Rabbit.)  She led me into the world of wool and handwork. I love her so, so much.

Then I met Kristen.  Kristen Matly-Dennis.

She owned and operated the famed Knit Nook for five years until her MFA in writing, a new baby and a rotten economy led her to shut its doors.  I spent forever hours in her shop learning the craft of knitting.  Now she is my good friend.  We were supposed to go to the Yellow Springs Fiber Festival: A Wool Gathering tomorrow, but she just drove 2500 miles to Massachusetts and back and is unable to gear up for another road trip just yet.  I will have to post photos for her.

Next, I met JoAnn.  JoAnn Adams:

JoAnn taught me to spin.

It is an ongoing process, of course.

I met JoAnn at the fiber festival in Corydon, IN and over the past three years, have become her most avid student and a most appreciative friend.  So avid and appreciative, I suspect she expects to find me hiding out on her property some day.  I love her dogs, her sheep, her Low-Dutch Meeting House, and her.  If I get within 5 miles of her farm, I break out in a twang and start talkin' 'bout the holler.

Last year, JoAnn and her husband, Sam, decided to "give" me a sheep.  I say "give," because I do not have any place to put a sheep, and so, she lives at Sweet Home Spun, is cared for, bred and shorn at Sweet Home Spun.  Basically, I get to dream about her.  We call her "Baa".  We are never sure exactly which one is Baa.  Whichever one comes when we call is, in that moment, "Baa".  TODAY, Baa's identity became very specific.  TODAY is the day that Baa was shorn for the first time and her fleece designated as the one that I would spin and return to her as a sweater.  Meet Baa:

Here are her before and after poses for the day:

My job this shearing day was to assist in skirting the fleeces.  To skirt a fleece is to pull all the vegetation, dried excrement and matted clumps from the edges and to shake out what will fall.  The lanolin coats your hands and your clothing develops a general dinge - great, great fun.  Here's a fleece on the skirting table:

And here are few links for the day:

After the fleece is washed, carded and spun, I can begin to knit.




Kristin said...

I remember the first time you told me about this project, and how excited I was. I always imagined a cabled cardigan. But whatever you knit for Baa is going to be lovely!

adrienne callander said...

I am leaning towards a cabled cardigan with wood buttons from Neil Morris. . .want to help me design the pattern? If I were smart, I'd become even better friends with Tonya!

Jazz Hands said...

Yeah, what Kristin said! I can't wait to see this cardigan, I am super excited. I love big, wood buttons. That is gonna be one cozy sweater.

Jazz Hands said...

I am so excited so excited! What an awesome project. I can't wait to see this cardigan with some big, wooden buttons. Baa is going to be one cozified sheep.

adrienne callander said...

Ok, Kristin and Jazz Hands, I will post some design ideas soon - I can't wait to hear from you when I do!