04 June, 2012
Never Work with Animals
Saturday I was a volunteer at Monticello with other local weavers and spinners, showing the public how handspun works and talking to people about history and textile technology two hundred years ago and otherwise. Went well. I'm probably in strangers' online photo albums as an oddity but that's okay. Monticello is an international tourist attraction and a beautiful historic property so I was more nervous than usual waiting for people to start coming by with questions.
Five people were keen enough about spinning that I sent them home with a spindle and wool. I assembled the spindles from toy wheels and dowels; I finally got around to adding hooks on the ends. Turned out I didn't need to pre-drill holes before putting in hooks which is good because power tools don't call to me. Even better, the spindles worked quite well. I've ordered more pieces from Lee Valley Tools since I hope to need more spindles to loan or give away this coming weekend at a WWKIP day event.
The video above shows two Tunis sheep, also known as Barberry sheep. Tunis is a breed from North Africa that Thomas Jefferson owned because it handled hot weather better than English breeds. These sheep are last year's lambs, according to the man and woman that came over from the Frontier Culture museum with the sheep, and this was the sheep's first shearing. (Shearing was done with shears from Burgon and Ball of Sheffield; apparently they are the best brand for manual shears.) Between the travel and the indignity it was all a bit much. One sheep got loose and headed down the hill toward the gravesite before coming back. The staff from the Frontier Culture museum said they were glad the sheep didn't get into Monticello's extensive vegetable garden.
There was a man watching the sheep, maybe in his late twenties, who asked questions that revealed a higher than normal knowledge and interest. I asked and he said he hopes to own a small flock. I was able to introduce him to another weaver/handspinner volunteer who raises Border Leicesters commercially and enjoys sharing information. They had a good chat.