Why Work from Fleece?

The other day, I put up a video about washing our fleece. In it, I said that we were going to wash our fleece as white as snow, just like the Bible says. Well,  I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this phrase actually comes from a childhood nursery rhyme rather than the Bible.

Mary had a little lamb,
His fleece was white as snow,
And everywhere that Mary went,
The lamb was sure to go.

I said it off the cuff and after thinking about it and Googling the verse, I realized that the Bible doesn’t actually use the phrase “his fleece was white as snow.” Here is the verse I was thinking of:

Come now, let us argue it out,
    says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be like snow;
though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool.

Isaiah 1:18, NRSV

“White as snow” and “white as wool” are certainly inferred but the phrase “white as snow” is not there. That just shows how easy it is to mix culture and scripture.

Okay. So now while my cheeks cool down from embarrassment, I’d like to talk about why I am working from fleece to make yarn. It seems a little crazy to do this because I work full time and there is also an entire Etsy store full of yarn at my disposal. I also have my own stash of yarn and well, it’s a lot. And now that I have started spinning, I have roving to turn into yarn. Why start from a fleece? Have I lost my mind? Why put in all of this work when it is so easy to buy yarn?

There’s just something about working from scratch

I blame Laura Ingalls Wilder for this. As a child I read every one of her books several times. To me it only seemed natural that I should make my own rag doll after reading about Laura making one for herself. And then when the little pinked squares of sample fabric came in the mail, I reasoned that these could be a small quilt for my Barbies. Even though the doll was ugly and the little quilts were polyester, the fun was in putting those things together.

Reading about Laura’s family making maple candy and syrup, smoking their meat, making hats, baskets and dresses, apple pie from green pumpkin and all of the other things they made for themselves awakened a desire within me to make from scratch – never mind the fact that the lack of stores on the prairie meant that the Ingalls family had to do this stuff, I wanted to do it too.

This translated later into my married life early on when we had small children and were broke. We had a garden so I canned as much as I could. Bread was also expensive and I had children who liked sandwiches, so I learned how to make it from scratch. I also cooked our meals from scratch because we couldn’t afford ready-made ingredients. The thing was that making things from scratch was – and still is – better than most things you will get ready made at the store or in a restaurant.

Building it from the “ground up” feels good

Just like making a dinner from from scratch, using fresh ingredients or food that I processed, feels good in that it makes me more conscious of quality ingredients, making my yarn is the same thing. The fleece I have is good and healthy. I can feel good about the yarn it will yield because I am working hard to process it in the best way I can. There is just a deep level of satisfaction here that buying ready-made yarn produced in mass does not provide.

All of this provides connection with the past

I’m not saying that making my own yarn connects me with my ancestors in a deep mystically weird sense, but it does connect me with the human condition. It makes me appreciate all of the time it takes to process clothing or household goods in a society where everything is virtually at our fingertips, and near instant gratification is the standard. It makes me appreciate all of the effort our ancestors put into survival. It gives me pause for thought regarding how all of this came to be and how God gave us the wisdom to develop our clothing and everything else we use. This leads to my last reason

It gives me a greater sense of awe

Imagine the days when people lived in caves and basically hunted for and gathered their food. They were nomadic people who – no matter what Paleo diet lovers will tell you –  didn’t eat very well. One day, however, someone figured out that if you plant enough seed a field of food will result. Or, if you dry the leftovers from meat there could be enough for winter. What was it like to discover that you could take the wool off a sheep and spin it into strong continuous string with a rock and a stick? How many generations did it take to work this process out? This one string led to warm functional garments and then to beautiful garments. From it, people built tents and sails, which eventually led to the discovery of new lands. It’s all mind boggling and awesome at the same time. How did this all happen? The fact that we can get beautiful, functional clothing from a sheep or a plant is the mark of a wonderful Creator who thought of our welfare long before we discovered it. Buying clothing in mass takes away from this sense of awe. We need to rediscover it.

Those are just a few thoughts. What are yours?

One thought on “Why Work from Fleece?

  1. Pingback: Madder yields shades of red – The Contemplative Crafter

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s