Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Little Studio that Could

When I was a child one of my favorite stories was The Little Engine that Could. I remember quite clearly the picture of the sweat pouring off the brow of the little engine as she struggled up the mountain pass chanting to herself, "I think I can, I think I can". Last winter I began to envision my own studio space, and that chant came to my mind. There's an old shed on our property, "I think I can make it habitable". I walled off a 10' square section, with scraps of plywood from our building projects, stuffed it with insulation salvaged from a house due for demolition. A nice opening window and door came from our pile of salvaged building supplies. I built shelves from extra lumber we had on hand, an old desk became a work table, and as my engine chugged to the top of the mountain, suddenly I had a comfortable space of my own. The spinning wheel that my dad made for me in 1974 now has a home and I am whirling the wheel in pure bliss whenever I get a spare minute.

Of course there's still more finishing to do, but who can concentrate on carpentry when there is wool to be processed??

Mom's Shearing Poem

My mom creates poems about her life. They come to her late at night, or in the early hours of the morning, blooming in to her creative mind and out in to the world.

April 16, 2009


Our festival begins this weekend,

The annual shearing of the sheep.

We spinners wait like vultures,

Eyeing what each of us can keep.

It is a time of gathering, flock and family,

All eager for the changes in store;

The sheep will frolic, light and clean,

The wool folk buried in new fleece galore.

Enticing in its beauty, the fleeces beckon us

Our fingers test its tensile strength,

Our eyes its sheen and crimp.

We users of this harvest must remember

What a gift it is to plunge hands in a fleece;

The shepherd works to keep the flock healthy and safe,

So we like spiders making webs, might carry into our separate corners,

This sacred fiber meal.

by Sally White

Shearing down on the Farm

Last week my Mom phoned and said, "We're shearing tomorrow, can you come down?" I've been looking forward to shearing day. It's a spring ritual, the greening grass, the flowering orchard, the sheep white in the fields, free of their heavy coats. I caught the early morning ferry, and endured 7 hours on the freeway zooming south in my little honda with no back seat, my aging black lab dog shadow, Claws, snoozing on a blanket, half in the trunk, half out.

Friday morning it rained. My brother and I had lured the sheep into the barn the night before and they were dry. The shearers arrived at noon towing their specialized 'shearing wagon'. It was a contraption that had seen many years of service over several generations of shearers. After getting all the sheep lined up, the three shearers went to work. The sheep went up the ramp into the trailer with their woolly coats on, and emerged sheared clean (that's where the term, 'fleeced' comes from!). The lambs got their woolly little behinds clipped. The rain stopped and the sun came out. Mom and I manned the skirting table and selected the finest fleeces to be packed away in boxes for our woolly endeavors for the coming year.

That afternoon and evening the farm resonated with baaing, as lambs tried to locate their mothers who sounded the same but looked entirely different. Perhaps like a young child who doesn't recognize his father after the beard goes away. But this is a body beard!!

I spent a lovely Saturday with Mom, and got some photos of her in her garden.

Claws and I drove home Sunday, the car smelled quite sheepy, with 23 fleeces squirreled away in the trunk and under Claws, who snoozed in cushy comfort. We also brought home some plants from Mom's flower garden, and happy spring memories.

Now I am in wool heaven. I will be washing, teasing, carding and spinning... and somewhere in there I will get my vegetable garden planted!!