Do you know where your yarn comes from? Well, I do now. Last weekend we took a much anticipated (as anyone who’s talked to me in the last week can attest to) field trip to the Woolly Weekend at Shepherd’s Cross Farms. Shepherd’s Cross is a working sheep farm in Claremore, Oklahoma about 30 miles northeast of Tulsa. The weekend illustrated the “sheep to shawl” process of shearing, carding, spinning, and weaving wool. Here are a few of the highlights:
This place is absolutely beautiful. It looks just like the pictures of farms I used to draw when I was a kid (minus the weird horse-shaped blobs).
First up, a little sheep shearing. I couldn’t believe how fast the process was. It took all of about 10 minutes to shear off all her wool – and in one piece! I can’t even peel an orange in one piece.
Here they are showing off the new spring haircuts. These guys won’t be the only one’s sporting a buzz cut to survive the Oklahoma summers. Next, the wool is washed in an industrial washing machine and left to dry on baking racks.
After the wool is dried and cleaned, it’s ready to be carded. It’s run across a wire bristled wheel (kind of reminds me of my dog’s brush) to align the fibers and remove clumps before it goes to the spinning wheel.
The spinning process was pretty fascinating. The wheel had a simple foot pedal to control the speed, then she just held a piece of carded wool and pulled strands toward the wheel while it spun it into a single ply yarn. She managed to make it look so easy I’m tempted to go back for one of the spinning classes they offer. They also have monthly knitting, crocheting, spindling, and wet felting classes.
Their website is www.shepherdscross.com and if you’re ever in this part of the world, I recommend a visit. You can also buy some of their homemade yarn on etsy at www.etsy.com/shop/shepherdscross. Speaking of shopping….
Yarn, roving, quilt batting, homemade knits, wine, sheepskin rugs, natural lamb meat, and just the right amount of kitschy knick-nacks. There was plenty to see before heading outside to enjoy all of the natural beauty this part of the world has to offer. There’s a reason they call it ‘green country’. I think the sheep at Shepherd’s Cross have pretty deluxe accommodations.
Then, it was time to pack up my purchases, wave goodbye to our new sheep friends, and head home to start planning what to knit. I think this yarn will felt beautifully and I bought some roving to try my hand at wet felting. There is something so simple and satisfying about buying the materials to do what you love from people in your community. I learned so much this weekend and I’m inspired to know even more.
A woolly weekend indeed.