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The Rastafarian Technicolor Sheep Fleece to Fabric Demonstration

The Redwood Guild of Fiber Arts demonstrated how a fleece turns into fabric at the Sonoma County Fair this year. The fleece started out as white but was given a multicolored dye bath before it took center stage at the demonstration.  As the fleece went into the dye pot without any other preparation, we showed it at the fair in that condition-clumps of multicolored wool tangled together.  Our ever shifting audience was always asking where the wool came from.  Sometimes they wanted to know if it was from a sheep and, other times, what breed of sheep.  Early in the three weeks of the fair’s run, another audience member said that it must have been a Rastafarian Technicolor Sheep–and the name stuck.  In reality, the sheep was a Romney from Joann Slissman’s ranch  and she did the dying for us.

Ginny Gill at the Loom

Ginny Gill at the Loom

We staffed our demonstration with at least one weaver, one spinner and one other person to card and we tried to get multiples for each 4 hour session. We had hand cards and a drum carder available.  All the volunteers were encouraged to interact with the fair goers.  We had a poster storyboard showing people doing dyeing, spinning, weaving and knitting and we had samples on our table showing the wool from its clumpy and tangled beginning, its cloud-like carded metamorphosis, the finished skeins and then balls of yarn, and the weaver working on a scarf using the hand spun fiber. Later, we had some of the finished scarves on our display.

midori at the wheel

Linda Miller at the wheel

We deliberately called this a demonstration, not to be confused with a Sheep to Shawl Contest where teams compete to see who can finish their shawl first.  We didn’t want to do this outside and we didn’t want to start by shearing a sheep.

Instead, we did the ongoing demonstration as an extension of the handwoven and spinning display of judged entries in the fair.  We called on our members and other friends to sign up for demonstrating and we encouraged new members, new weavers and new spinners to take part.

A teaching moment with Ann Keller

A teaching moment with Ann Keller

The Redwood Guild is large with about 100 members and this was a good way for new, and not so new members to meet and interact.  We had lots of positive feedback from fair goers and the fair staff and everybody who volunteered enjoyed working with the wool and each other as well as explaining the process that the fiber has to go through to all who asked.

Woven scarf on display as well as carded wool

Woven scarf on display as well as carded wool

another of the scarves

another of the scarves

scarf

scarf

 

Also, participants had suggestions on how we could make this demonstration even better.  All in all, we had volunteers working with the wool for eleven  four hour sessions and they finished weaving six scarves.  The guild is planning on selling these scarves and using the money to fund scholarships and mentoring of a future generation of fiber artists.

Final Article…