Monday, May 7, 2012

Cottage Industry

I'm sitting on my bed on this warm May evening, ceiling fan spinning overhead, dog panting next to me, books spread around me with titles such as Turning Wool into a Cottage Industry, Respect the Spindle, In Sheep's Clothing, and Hand-Dyeing Yarn and Fleece.  I can hear the sound of a tractor outside, Joey is starting to plant our sweet corn.

This is the year that we are going to start making some profits from this little homestead.  At least we hope... We have invested in $250 worth of sweet corn, jack-o-lanterns, pie pumpkins, gourds, and organic popcorn seeds to plant in our two acre field.  The other acre is in pasture for the sheep, which is our next endeavor: selling our merino wool.

It is definitely a learning process, and it's going to take a long time for me to learn to spin, but we are determined to process as much of the wool ourselves because it is very expensive to send it out to be commercially washed, carded and spun.  I don't have a lot of access to anyone willing to teach me hand-spinning (unless I pay for classes that are about 3 hours away) so I'm going about it the only way I know how: read everything I can and then try it myself.  The vast majority of everything we do on this homestead follows that exact same series of events.  Our copy of Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep is pretty battered and a stack of gardening books and Mother Earth News magazines is towering on the back of my toilet right now.   I always learn best when I have the guidance of someone to show me how it's done, but I can always turn back to books.

And so I've requested some more books through inter-library loan.  And I think I'm going to check out YouTube for hand-spinning videos.  Hopefully sometime soon I'll have some beautiful merino wool on my Etsy site, at the farmer's market, and possibly a local yarn store!

Some of our washed merino wool, ready for picking, carding, and spinning!


  1. You are so inspiring, Whitney. I've always been a 'just try it myself' kind of girl too, but thus far it's only been on small scale kinds of stuff, and I'm still in the city to get whatever I need in case I screw up!

    Best of luck in your spinning endeavors- I look forward to the finished product!


  2. You might also consider selling the batts. There are folks who want to spin their own, and you could save yourself a lot of work and still get a good price for the wool.

    I haven't learned how to spin yet, but maybe I will!