Friends and I attended a World Wide Knit in Public Day event this past weekend at Scotchtown, a historic property in Virginia that is run as a living history museum. We sat under the trees with our knitting and spinning and we had a pleasant rambling discussion about fibre types, colour blending in handspun, fleece washing, handknit sock fitting considerations (10 per cent negative ease, I'm told), and the cost of a well-trained border collie.
One person, a staff member, learned to spin on a drop spindle of mine. We all cheered for her first piece of yarn.
I got a quick look again in the basement of Patrick Henry's house at the floor looms, great wheels, flax wheel, skein winders, fine and coarse flax hackles, and warping board.
We saw the shearing of a small flock of Hog Island sheep, a historically significant breed in Virginia that traditionally produced wool for cloth worn by common folk. I'm told that one of the notable things about Patrick Henry was that he wore homespun. I saw one of his suits once on display at Scotchtown and it appealed to me as a lot more modern and low-key looking than other clothes of the time.
The current flock is a collaborative project between the museum and the local 4H club. For ease of maintenance the flock consists of one ewe and some wethers. No lambs here.