This semester I received two grant awards to do a creative research project on spinning yarn and wool processing. I've spun since I was 16 and always wanted to go even further back along the production line, but never had the courage, resources, funding, and contacts I needed until now!
My project included washing raw alpaca and llama fleece I had receive long ago from a relative with a farm in the Northwest, researching spinning techniques and methods, a little history of spinning and wool, sheep breeds, experimenting with spinning different kinds of wool (including multiple sheep breeds, llama, alpaca, yak, and angora rabbit), spinning both raw wool and commercially processed, analyzing wool textiles from the Spencer Museum of Art collection, taking lots of notes, and talking to lots of fabulous people with lots of knowledge! Here's some photos from my semester of wool!
Shearing and Washing Fleeces at Pinwheel Farm:
One element of my project included working with a local farmer, Natalya, on Pinwheel Farm in Lawrence, KS. There, I helped her skirt, scour, and wash fleeces. I was also able to watch and help on shearing day! Natalya was a huge help in learning the process, how she would process wool for commercial sale, sheep care, the science of wool, and supplying raw wool!
Research on Textiles from the Spencer Museum of Art:
My project concluded with a solo exhibition in the Kansas Union Gallery. The show, titled HOME, included my work from my years as a Textile/Fiber Arts major as well as all the yarn I spun this semester, my tools from processing, my spinning wheel, examples of wool at each stage in the process, photos from the farm and process, different kinds of wool to feel (like angora rabbit and yak!), and my research note book full of everything from breeds, steps from sheep to skein, notes from the Spencer Museum of Art, different wheels, plying methods, and descriptions of the science behind spinning. The show was open May 1 - May 17, 2017.