So when I finally got up the courage last year to finally ask what would become of the wool from the Little Prince’s sheep, I had a vague idea of what I could imagine happening:
I would have wool to play with.
That’s it? That is, indeed, it.
I had worked through the bag of wool which had come with the spinning wheel when I received it in 2020. I had no more of the first couple fleeces that I had been given by a very sweet older couple back in 2018.
Learning to wash, card and spin wool (at least with a drop spindle) was easy and fun. It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun work. My eldest had even gotten involved in the washing and carding the first go-around.
The boys were super motivated to give it a go again. I of course couldn’t wait to give it a go again.
So I got a message from Musa, the animal caretaker at the Parc du Petit Prince, saying that the sheep were all shorn and the wool was ready for me if I still wanted it.
If I still wanted it? Remember, wanting a sheep is proof of existing!
So I hopped into my car and drove back to our favorite little theme park, but not to go ride a little roller coaster or watch our favorite show, but this time to collect my summer project.
It so happens that one of my husband’s former (and most accomplished) students, Mélodie, works in the park’s marketing department. This was an occasion for me to stop and say “hi” to her, too.
It was all pretty surreal: there is nothing that looks more like the backstage area of a theme park than the backstage area of a theme park. A couple of low-slung buildings and a lot of outdoor storage space, unused signage…it felt very familiar.
So as I chatted with Mélodie and Musa, I learned that each year they place a bet on how many kilograms of wool they are going to shear from the sheep. I wasn’t listening quite well enough, so I missed the exact number. It was over 100 kilograms.
The Trash/Treasure Conundrum
There were 8 huge gigantic trash bags full of the fruit of Musa’s labor. Obviously, I see this inconspicuous pile of trash bags, knowing what was inside, and my heart pittered and pattered.
He opened the first bag and said, “Oh, this, here on top, is from Nougatine. She’s one of the sheep from the show.” The show, as in the animal show they do twice a day at the park with trained pigeons and Gaspard the sheep dog and, of course, four beautiful sheep. (There are way more than four sheep, though. Way more!)
The fact that he could tell just from fleece which of his sheep it was made me smile. There were all kinds of implications to this offhand little comment he made which I will have to explore at another time. Needless to say, a shepherd knows his sheep.
He opened each of the bags, telling me which kind of sheep it was, or which sheep precisely it was. I pulled out a hunk of wool and twisted it between my fingers. I’m living the dream!
“If there’s any of this you don’t want, as you can see, my trip to the dumpster is only a few steps,” he added, indicating the blue dumpster about fifty feet away.
The line between trash and treasure is so very fine. I would have liked to take all of it, but my car could only hold four gigantic bags. I asked him to hang onto the rest for a few more days, to see if I could come up with a project for all of it…I had about 50 kilos of wool in my trunk. That’s no small amount of wool.
My car smelled amazing. I mean, wait, hold on:
It smelled awful, because, you know. It smelled like sheep and all the lovely things that go with sheep. But it also smelled like promise. There was a note of lanolin and raw wool. As I drove away, I would smell my hands from time to time, reminding myself that this was real.
I exist because I want a sheep.
I was about an hour away from picking the gents up at school, and I was livid with myself that I hadn’t brought my carders and my drop spindle, so I could whip up a little something with the cleanest piece I could find. Instead, I went to the craft store and bought felting needles. It’s one of many possible crafts I am dying to try with my treasure.
I picked up the boys with the car smelling like a barnyard.
They helped me carry it all inside, enthusiastic as ever:
The minute we got home, we took out a chunk of fleece and put it in the bathtub.
I haven’t had a look at all the fleece, but this one (not from Nougatine) was hopefully one of the messiest ones:
We went for it. We swished it around gently, watching the mud and hay and other organic matter release from the wool. My youngest was so unbelievably excited by the process, scooping the actual pieces of poop out of the tub with a little plastic cup, while my eldest came in every once in a while to check on our progress, otherwise unimpressed.
We washed this particular section three times to get it close to being something I could imagine working with.
It’s still dirty, but a dirty I can work with.
The wool was still wet, but I couldn’t help but to card a tiny bit. I couldn’t help put to spin just a teeny tiny bit.
Don’t judge my homemade macgyvered drop spindle…my good one was otherwise occupied, and my father doesn’t arrive until later this summer with this beauty right here that he made for me:
Well, obvs, I had to scrub the bathtub, which was no easy task after that little adventure.
I’m going to try to wash a little bit of wool each day, but not in the bathtub. I’m also going to be a bit pickier about which wool I actually decide to work with, since this first batch was uhm…pretty darn messy. This is all part of the trash/treasure conundrum. But at some point, I have to recognize that with 50 kilos of wool, I probably won’t be able to use every single ounce.
Also, I want to start thinking about what small project I can make from the wool for our favorite park employees (and by this I mean all of them, because we love them all!) from the wool. It sounds silly, maybe it is silly, but if I have it in my heart, then it’s something I need to do.
I am going to meet with the Director from the boys’ school to see propose an activity in which I could walk the kids through the process of washing, carding, spinning wool, with a simple project they could make with their wool. The added charm of this being from the Little Prince’s sheep makes the whole thing incredibly poetic to me.
I can guarantee that there will be more to come on this!
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Sing With Your Feet is the podcast in which we learn to dig up and dust off the treasures we buried in our backyard, and to reinvest them in living our Ideal Life.