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Wool That Nobody Wanted

March 25, 2011

There is a story in each garment, a living history of our collective experience resides in the implications and realities of our clothes.  The wool in this tunic comes from the homestead of Kenny Kirkland.  His flock is small in comparison to the flocks that live north and west of us– where 1,000 sheep per ranch is considered normal.  In our current system the meat from these animals brings the highest margins, and yields vital wages and income.  However, many resources lay wasted in the process of procuring this “one” economically viable product.  Making something from the wool is time consuming and proves unaffordable for many ranchers.

I wondered…. “At this moment..the great irony and tragedy is that it is too “expensive” to use our own resources…. but in a drastically re-organized economic system which we are entering…… will this remain the case?”

What happens when we can’t get everything we need from somewhere else?

The sheep are here.

So many of them in fact….that we are throwing away, and or, store-housing 22,000 pounds of wool annually, in my county alone.  We haven’t seen so much as a sock available from our own “meat sheep” wool.  Let alone the obvious and easy applications you would expect to see– duvet fill, mattresses, and housing insulation.  Instead of making a mattress, we wanted to prove you could make something even more visually exciting– a garment so beautiful you don’t want to take it off.

This tunic is made with the wool of a sheep named Saturday, spun and knit by the hands of local artisan Nance Ottentstein, dyed in the summer and fall harvested plants of black walnut, Japanese Indigo, coyote brush, and eucalyptus.  This garment is a living symbol of what can be created when we focus on what is here and what is now.

To see this garment in person, and all of the other Fibershed pieces, you’re invited to our benefit dinner and show… a celebration to bring the first solar powered farm-based mill into existence.

We look forward to seeing you.

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7 Comments
  1. ann in indy permalink
    March 25, 2011 1:02 pm

    Absolutely beautiful! Even though I cannot be a part of what you are doing it is exciting for me to read about and learn. Thanks!

    • ecologicalartist permalink*
      March 25, 2011 3:32 pm

      Thank you Ann! I’m so glad the project inspires…. that makes us happy!

  2. March 25, 2011 4:31 pm

    It makes me sad to think of all that wool no one is using. I wish I could see all the garments in person – thanks for sharing your journey wiht us.

  3. christine veazey permalink
    March 30, 2011 5:23 pm

    Help! I am dying of ‘civilization’! I just found Jane Deamer’s website this morning, called her, bought some wool, and she told me of the Fibershed website. You all are so inspiring, and I have strived to live like you, leaving zero carbon footprint. I live in Trinity Center, California, but used to live in Davis…escaped up here, so to speak, but it is so far away from everything, and raise my own food (garden, chickens).

    I used to go out there to Pot Belly Farms and remember a magical out in the country concert given by Wolfstone.

    My reason for writing is to say hello and tell you I never want to buy clothes from a store again if I can help it!

  4. April 23, 2011 11:48 pm

    That’s a great looking piece of clothing.

    I took your advice and attempted to contact the sheep ranchers in my area about the wool but I’ve had no luck with the local university with getting started.

    On the other hand, I’ve got my green cotton plants off to a great start. Maybe, not enough to make anything but definitely enough to start learning and harvesting more seeds.

    Take care and love reading this blog as always.

    Jason

  5. April 24, 2011 11:33 pm

    Its great to hear your ideas, I look forward to learning more about the Mill!
    See you at Re-weaving the Community Cloth!

  6. Connie permalink
    June 3, 2011 1:17 am

    I have started a project “Out Damn spot, a Shakespearian Frock. We run a shearing business and being a fiber artist I watch not the fine of the fine but the garbage bag filling with some amazing fiber. One such fiber are the colored spots on a white fleece. With a frantic scream the spot is grabbed with a good amount of surrounding white fiber as to get all the color off the white fleece and into the garbage it goes. I have gathered spots since 2010 and am knitting a shawl out of them. I am preparing the fiber as to keep the spot colors recognizable in the finished yarn. I am horrified at what is being throw out in our country. These spots are always from the best part of the fleece. They are little and so lost in the big skeme of things as throw away. So sad.
    Connie Your Northern nieghbor

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