1 Day Class
When I began research for The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, it wasn’t clear to me what qualified as a Down wool, even though I’d been spinning for decades. By the time I dug thoroughly into the topic, I had developed a rock-solid concept for what was a Down breed and what breeds were Down-like. We’ll consider the theory of both in this workshop, although we will focus on the six core Down breeds: Dorset Down (a hornless sheep with a soft brown face), Hampshire, Oxford, Shropshire, Southdown, and Suffolk.
We’ll talk about WHY these breeds fit all the family definitions, and why the others that I call Down-like are cousins. We’ll also experience a range of Down-wool fleeces, because we have a mission here: to convince the breeders of these sheep that their wool is worth something to us. And it is. It has qualities that aren’t replicated in other wools—like a strong reluctance to felt. Lots of Down wools are either dumped into the wool pool for pennies on the pound or composted or stockpiled in barns; commercially, they have very little value, and I’ll explain why. Lots of them are ruined when the sheep are slick-shorn for livestock shows that emphasize meat qualities. Those that come off the sheep intact are often filled with vegetable matter. Yet once we know what we can do with these wools, and how uniquely valuable they are, then we’re in a position to convince shepherds to take better care of at least a few of their flocks’ fleeces. Once we know what Down wools can do that other wools can’t, we’ll be willing to pay shepherds decently for what could be some of the most versatile fiber on the planet. Everybody wins! Come play and learn why we’d want to do this.
Level: Basic spinning skills
Materials fee: $25
OPTIONAL (because we usually run out of time) some participants enjoy having quick-sampling tools, like knitting needles, crochet hooks, or Weave-It or similar extra-simple looms.