Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon
Mr. Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

very wild fiber

So I was on a commercial fishing vessel this morning just finishing up paperwork with the skipper when he was telling me he's going to go hunt sheep in northern BC next month. What what? I've never heard of people hunting sheep! And it was a kind of sheep I've never heard of (am kicking myself now for not writing it down!)

Of course when I hear the word 'sheep', naturally my brain interprets that as 'fleece' or 'fibre' or 'yarn'. So I asked him if he thought it would be good for fiber? (N.B. I am intentionally spelling fiber and fibre both ways because I know I have readers on all sides of this divide. I have no preference for which way to spell it, just like 'grey' or 'gray'. Earl Grey tea. Gray hair.)

Well, this particular skipper found my quest for fishermen who knit a very interesting one and asks me about it every time I see him, about every few weeks. Alas, no, no fishermen around here know how to knit or know anyone that does. I always offer to teach them. Ha ha, they say. I'm serious. Knitting is a life skill!

Last week I watched as a skipper and his deckhand from a trawl vessel repair some of their nets. They had long narrow bobbins and it seemed they passed the netting through a loop, tied a not, then passed it through another loop. It was quite mesmerizing (if you're a knitter like me and take an interest in these things). I wanted to climb down onto the boat and have them show me so I could understand, but darn it (pun intended), I was there as an observer and I had to remain on the dock to do my job.

Back to my main story, the skipper and I were talking about how to get fleece off an animal. I said you'd just need some shears, I imagine, there are probably special ones for different fiber animals but maybe plain old hair clippers would do? (If you are reading this and I'm way off base, please do let me know!) I know I need to investigate this further because...

He offered to bring me back the hide. He said he'd salt it down and roll it up, bring it back for me. He just wants the meat. A sheepskin?

I honestly don't know the first thing about processing raw fleece and turning it into yarn. I only picked up a drop spindle for the first time last month and haven't really enjoyed it enough to persist, but learning the process from start to finish, I admit, is extremely compelling.

One of the things I really like about this area is that everybody knows how to do stuff. Everybody knows how to jig for squid off the dock, how to smoke fish, how to can produce, in other words how to do all those things that people in cities pay other people to do for them. Dan and I are DIYers for sure, but living here has taken things to a whole new level. Who would have ever thought I would consider taking a raw hide and turn it into yarn? And if the hide is salvageable after that, I might even learn how to tan it. I know it would be smelly but gosh, where else do you just get a raw hide nowadays? It sounds like an adventure to me. Maybe even some sheepskin gloves/boots/clothes.

3 comments:

  1. ooh! I'd love a sheepskin! I suspect most shearing of sheep is done with a buzz-kind of clippers (as in buzz-cut). and yes, the processing is labour intensive - I'd love to try it all sometime. please see what you can do to procure some fleece :-)

    cheers
    Ursa

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  2. I know! I'd be happy to share it. I'm thinking of asking a couple of my knitterly friends here in Ukee if they are interested in participating in this process.

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  3. Folks go hunting north and in the Rockies for Dall sheep--lots online about them. The fleece looks pretty thick; I don't think hair clippers would do the job! They are beautiful, though; we've seen lots in Jasper and north over the years. If you can't get the fibre off, you could still use the sheepskin for all kinds of things--slippers? Bed cover?

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