Over the next few months, you can expect to be hearing about some of our wooliest exploits, considering I currently have 50 kilos of raw wool out on my balcony begging me to do something with it.
Fifty kilos of wool. I have no idea how many sheep that actually represents, but yesterday, I pulled out two complete fleece from one of the gigantic bags, and there were still at least that many, if not more in the bag.
So let’s imagine that, conservatively, each bag holds 4.5 fleece. So, we are looking at 18 sheepsworth (is that a word? I don’t think that’s a word) of wool out on my balcony right now.
That is definitely a sheep
Talk about Slow Fashion!
You know how long I have been excited about this. It was last August that I got up the nerve to ask the person responsible for the animals at our local theme park, Le Parc du Petit Prince (yes that Petit Prince) what was done with the wool when he sheared the sheep.
By the way, his name is Musa, and we’re going to get comfortable using his name, because his complicity in this scheme is what has made it a reality, and if I get really grossed out at any point, I will have someone to blame. (Just kidding. Sort of.)
But for months before that, I had been asking myself about it. And for months before that, I had been wondering where I could get more wool from, considering my previous source had dried up.
And for years before that, I had been wishing I could learn how to spin yarn, because yarn is so darn expensive. And for decades before that, I had been wishing I could be just like Laura Ingalls.
However, the trajectory from being like Laura to actually having 18 sheepsworth of wool on my balcony did not prepare me for unfolding a complete fleece, replete with the poop still stuck to the skirt and a kind of “headhole” and “armholes” where Musa had carefully sheared around his animals’ (sorry, let me rephrase that, the Little Prince’s animals-) paws and head.
Incidentally, I asked Musa how he learned to shear sheep, and he said he grew up on a farm in Turkey, and he learned to shear them by hand–without electric shearers. Like….with scissors. He also mentioned that his grandmother used to spin the wool from their sheep.
So apparently, I remind someone who is approximately my age of his grandmother. Thanks, Musa.
Okay, after that digression.
I unfolded that fleece, and it was a little bit damp. It smelled like sheep. It had poop stuck to it. And straw, and was let’s be honest, filthy.
What have I gotten myself into?Lily Fields, human, astounded that sheep poop, too.
Oh dear me. Slow Fashion would mean dealing with poop.
I had to take a minute, staring at the fleece. What I was seeing reminded me the film “The Village”, in which (spoiler alert) elders from the village dress up in terrifying costumes to scare the young people and keep them in line. A disembodied, filthy fleece is actually the stuff of nightmares.
What was I thinking? What was I feeling?
I was thinking that this might be one of the most absurd things my creativity ever pushed me into. I mean, this is, for all intents and purposes, a sheep! On my balcony!
I was thinking, there is no way on God’s green earth that this could ever be anything. This is too dirty. Too poopy.
And then I promptly took a picture of it, took a pair of scissors and cut off the poopiest of the poopy parts, divided what was left in two parts, folded one part the fleece back up and put it back in the bag, and shoved the rest into a basin of warmish water and let it sit.
It was important to ask myself what I was feeling and thinking, because, as you might remember, I have found relief for some of my hormonal ailments in creativity–particularly in the act of destroying something and turning it into something else (AKA refashioning).
Could this little balcony-enterprise be a substitute for refashioning? I mean, it was definitely about destroying something. This gross, poopy fleece would be unrecognizable once I was done with it.
All I can say on this is: so far so good. I was shockingly not skeezed out by the poop. I was–not surprisingly–fascinated by how muddy the water became. I’ve always said that it is more fun to clean up after a big mess than to keep up the small, daily habits (project mentality vs maintenance mentality, blah blah blah.) This just proved the point.
How satisfying it was to dump that muddy water into my plants, and start over again. I am trying to be ecological about this whole thing, so I’m trying to wash in smallish batches so that I know where the water will go—usually in my little garden.
Then to the drying rack (where we usually hang our clothes), where it would stay a full day in the sun to dry.
In the end, a bit of the discoloration remained, but wowza. This wool was going to be gorgeous.
What are you going to do with all that?
I would like to point out that my indulgent husband has had the delicacy to not ask this question. This is why we love him.
This question is one I have been asking myself. And at the very same time, I am also saying to myself, “I hope there is enough here to do everything I want to do.” Because…it wouldn’t be fun if I weren’t pre-hoarding and rationing 18 sheepsworth of wool. On my balcony no less.
I had a brief chat with the director of my kids’ school, and I’m fairly certain I got him on board with a project…we’ll be meeting in June to flesh out the details…one class? Multiple classes? How many hours would we need? What would the kids be walking away with in the end?
So there are definitely a few sheep that I will be reserving for that project.
Secondly, I have ideas and a willing helper (my poop-scooper and scientist-in-chief) to make little batches for “experimental purposes”, as seen here:
The best kinds of experiments are free experiments, are we not in agreement? I’ll write up a little article about that blue rose in a few days, because my little scientist really did do most of the work himself.
And lastly, the topic I will be covering in another article at a later time, the “anti-fast-fashion” process of preparing wool, spinning it, designing a project for it and knitting it up. In the meantime, I invite you take a look at this Pinterest board.
I’m not an enthusiast for nuthin’, I tell myself as I catch of waft of wool off the balcony.
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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.