Notes from Windward: #56

Storing wool for winter

Joyce examining wool on top of the storage container
We're always able to use more storage, generally to store things, but the process of making do with what you have is deeply ingrained by now, and we often find novel uses for things. We received a donation of a dozen wool fleeces that had been intended for Pendleton Woolen Mills (Pendleton is closing down and moving their mill to Mexico, so they're not buying this year), and they needed to be sorted, skirted and bagged for storage. The top of the new storage containers turned out to be the perfect place for the task.

Checking the wool for its color, crimp, fiber length, etc.
When sheep are sheared, the edges of the fleece have to be trimmed in order to remove short hairs, clumps of mud, etc., a process called "skirting." Next , Joyce evaluates the fleece for quality, color and potential uses, then stores the fleece in a burlap sack for later use. It's a lot easier to review a series of samples, than to climb through a storage bin looking at burlap bag after bag trying to find something appropriate. Having things stored away is all well and good; being able to find them again when you need them is quite another thing altogether. We've even evolved the term "deep storage" to describe something we know we have, but aren't sure exactly where on these 106 acres it is at this particular moment.

These donated fleeces will provide wool for educational activities in the coming year. Some types are good for handspinning, others for felting and still others for making fluffy wool bats for comforters and quilted clothing. Wool is an extremely versatile fiber which comes in a wide range of characteristics to an even wider range of uses.

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