Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sheep to Shawl - A Presentation by the Littleton Historical Museum

Today in the News:  It was a good weekend.  I electrified myself.  Now I have a magnetic personality.

Link of the Day: - a place where my parents used to take me when I was a boy.  I certainly wish I could get back there.

Sheep to Shawl

We decided to attend the presentation called "Sheep to Shawl" at the Littleton Historical Museum.  As most of you know, we've taken on Angora rabbits (more about that in a later post) and have been saving the wool in an attempt to learn spinning.  Although rabbits and sheep give different fibers, we thought we would attend and see what we could learn. 

Upon arrival, there were two ladies spinning.  Very cool to watch.  I've been looking for a wheel for my wife and I have to say that they are quite expensive.  That's for the lower end product.  These must've cost a mint.  They were beautiful.  While it was cool to watch, I didn't see them offering anyone a spin on the wheel.  Too bad.
Another station had people dying wool.  It was beautiful, hanging there in the breeze.
I think they called this a drum carder.  Same idea as hand cards, but more efficient.
Some of the dying supplies.  These ladies were dying using natural materials.
One thing I like about this museum - they always have a fire on when presenting. 
Red dye.
I moved on to the next station and they were sheering the sheep.  Very cool.  If anyone reading in Colorado knows a sheep farmer, hook me up.  I want to learn how to sheer.

His sheers were hooked up to what looked like a half-horse power electric motor with a drive shaft.  Pretty neat.  Pretty much the same idea as a weed whacker.

The sheep just looked zoned out as it was getting sheered.
An assistant picking up the cape.

More dyed material.

This lady was "skirting".  She was pulling all of the poo/matted material out of the cape.  She gave us some to take home, but warned us that it had poo on it.  MMmmmmmm.....sheep dip.

Baa-baa black sheep, have you any wool?  Yes, sir, Yes sir, three bags full.

Next, we went to the felting demonstration.  I'd never seen anyone make felt, but it looked really easy.  She said you just need heat, soap, water and agitation.  Beyond that, you just rub it on a washboard.
She explained how the fibers locked together to create felt.

Here she did the "tug test" to show the difference between something felted and something knit.  Advantage: felt.

There was also a sheep dog demonstration.  Very cool to see these dogs working in their element.

The dog nipped at one of the sheep and had a mouth full of wool.  The Shepperd yelled, "Spit that out!" and the dog obeyed.  Cool stuff.

I went digging around the tools in an unstaffed building and found this - it is a plumb victory and, unlike the other axes I've run into at the museum, it was really sharp!
Nice crapper.
It was locked.  Why would you lock an outhouse?  I guess to keep kids from falling in.  People that think their crap doesn't stink don't bother locking the doors.  These people must be stinky.

On our way out we stopped by the blacksmith shop.  No blacksmith was on hand.  I pawed around the tools looking for axes.
I only found one in the whole place and, as you can tell from the cobwebs, it hasn't been used in awhile.

Overall, I learned that felting appears easy.  I have a pair of leather mitten covers.  I might try making liners for them.  I've heard that pure angora is waaaay too hot to use without blending with another fiber.  I'm going to try it anyway.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel.......out.


  1. The trouble with shearing is that you can cut the ewes teats off and the lambs can't nurse. No joke! The "axe" in the blacksmith shop looks like an experiment gone bad. In fact, it looks like someone was trying to make a tomahawk out of a froe, again, no joke.

  2. Your mention of the Blacksmith shop remids me of a time I visited a colonial village not far from here in Australia. I found piles of period equipment & tools outside in the rain spoiling. I asked if our living history group could help sort & catalogue it, but they refused. It is still there rusting away as far as I know.
    Good post.

  3. Drives me nits, guys. I think you're right, Gorges. If you would have seen the profile, it was as though a drunk person got at it. LeLoup, these are well organized, for the most part, but unused. That's what drives me insane. Tools that aren't used. That's why I'll probably never be a "true" collector of anything. If I have it, it is going to get used!

    I can't imagine cutting off anything's teat, Gorges. I have a hard enough time cutting salt pork when it has a teat on it.