Aside from raising kids and chickens on our little homestead we also raise Icelandic Sheep. My husband, being a chef, wanted to raise them for meat because they have a very mild lamb flavor and they are very hardy for Wisconsin weather. Me on the other hand would prefer to never eat them and just keep them around for the artistic possibilities of their wool... I have lost the battle of keeping vs. butchering the animals.... Before we say goodbye to them every fall we do shear them by hand, and I have grown quite the collection if fleece from these guys and gals.
When we take on new homesteading projects we always start the process by learning the hands on, old fashioned way of doing things before we move to a modernized version. Sometimes the reasons are economical, sometimes they are just for us to master the still before moving on, but either way it is always a huge learning process for us. With sheep sheering we started by using a hand sheers rather than using an electric groomer. The reason we made this choice was when we began we only had 3 sheep, and spending $600+ for an electric sheers didn't seem economical. Now that we got the hang of things we haven't really felt the need to move away from a hand sheers, although, we also have never had to sheer more than 2 in a day. Once we grow our flock we may change our mind, it is not very difficult to sheer a sheep by hand but it can be time consuming if you want it done correctly.
We have sheered and saved the wool from our sheep for the past 2 years and I now have a collection that needs to be processed. I figured since I am pretty far along in my pregnancy 8 months now, it might be a good time to sit still and learn a new skill. Again with this process we want to learn how to do it the old fashioned way before we move on and have it processed for us. That means cleaning it by hand, combing (carding) the wool so it is all in one direction, and then spinning it into yarn. I had washed the wool over the summer so it was ready to use whenever I was ready, and my mom gave me a set of wool carders and a drop spindle for my birthday, so I guess now is the time to try this out.
Like everything else we do around here we learn how to do things by watching videos on you tube and reading books. I found a video from Spin City Yarn that I feel is a great tool to beginning yarn spinning. I plan on using this one to start out.
This is my beautiful new drop spindle purchased at Spin City Yarn the woman from the video makes beautiful art yarn, drop spindles like this one and knitting kits. She has the most vibrant colorful work I suggest checking the link out!
Once I figure out show to card and spin the wool the next step is figuring out how to use my knitting needles. So far I am a terrible knitter and have a long way to go....but you have to start somewhere!