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Dave talks with fiber sculptor Susan Barrett Merrill about the process of turning wool into yarn and gets a live demonstration ...
of the spinning wheel.
Tags:How to Spin Wool,Dave Epstein,growingwisdom,How to spin wool and other fibers into yarn,learn how to spin wool fiber into yarn,Spin wool into yarn,Spin Your Own Wool,Wool processing
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Dave: Hi, I'm Dave Epstein with Growing Wisdom. We’re here today at the common ground fair and Susan has been kind enough to let me wear this awesome mask. And you're telling me it's a mask in a hat, both.
Dave: So Susan, what do you call this? I'm totally unfamiliar with what you're doing. So, this is a great learning moment for me.
Susan: Okay, I am spinning wool. There are 30 of us here spinning wool at the common ground fair. And we hope to shear a flock of sheet out on the islands off of the coast of Maine. And then, we spin the wool and all of us make something different with the wool.
Dave: Tell me about the machine that you're using? It doesn’t look very modern to me.
Susan: Well, this is a spinning wheel. The spinning wheel was invented by Leonardo Da Vinci in the 1400’s so it's relatively new. Before that, the drop spindle was used. And that’s a beautiful, simple, stick in a whirl. For centuries, all the incredible clothing, the sails that Magellan had, everything was spun on a drop spindle before the spinning wheel.
Dave: So, this is a several hundred years old though?
Dave: This method.
Dave: And what kind of wool is this? Is this just from sheep you said?
Susan: This is a fleece from a ram sheep. And this is the way it looks right off the sheep, shorn off the sheep. And this is called “spinning in the breeze”. And that means that it hasn’t been washed yet and carded. And carded means that you run this through some carders which have teeth that make all of the fibers go in one single direction.
So, this is the way it looks right when it comes off the sheep which is fascinating to me because I like seeing how the fibers are grown on the sheep. And it's very easy to spin this way because they’re separated easily, coming right off the raw fleece.
I use this raw fleece to make these masks because what I do is wash them after I weave them on a little loom called the “journey loom”.
Susan: And then, I felted on to this hat. I make a hat out of it. And that washes the fleece very thoroughly.
Dave: That’s neat. Well Susan, thank you very much. It's been a pleasure having you here with us at Growing Wisdom. I love the hat and the mask. And you can see things done the old-fashioned way here in Maine at the common ground fair. Lots to check out, we hope you come back every week and check out all of our videos here at Growing Wisdom.