Monday, October 17, 2011

My Love Affair...with Wool! ;-)

This affair began early in my life...
Photo from Google images
... my great uncle and aunt, Harry and Clara Branigan, were the only sheep farmers in our small community in northern Minnesota.  I would find every excuse I could to ride my shetland pony over to their place.  They and their farm were such an important part of my childhood.
Photo from Google images
As a child, I dreamed of becoming a sheep farmer when I grew up.  I fantasied about my lifestyle of raising sheep, sheering them, spinning fleece, then knitting and weaving their wool into garments that I could sell and use.  What a wonderful lifestyle that would be! ;-)

While in junior and senior high school, I hung on to that dream...secretly.  I sewed most of my clothes all through high school.  My mother, 4-H and my home economics classes provided me with many opportunities to grow and develop my sewing skills.
 I was introduced to sewing with wool by the American Sheep Industry and their "Make it with Wool" contest.  I am thrilled that this competition still exists... ;-) ...good things "live" on!  Once you sew clothing with wool, you can't help but fall in love with it!  It is delightful to sew with ... sewing with wool is like baking with butter ... yep, a little slice of heaven here on earth!

My affair with wool was interrupted with college and beginning a teaching career.  My dreams of being a sheep farmer were filed away in the depths of my heart.  Then during the summer of 1980...
Photo from Google images
... I spent some time in Iceland ... and my love was reignited!

Mr. DillyDally and I were visiting with a cousin who was stationed in Keflavik.  While driving to Reykjavik, we would see Icelandic sheep all over ... it was wonderful.  Now you know where the sweaters in our engagement picture came from.  ;-)  Mr. DillyDally fell in love with me ... and wool!

I bought wool to knit with while there (read about it here) that began my many adventures in knitting with wool.  Most people who don't work with wool, remember it without fondness because it was "itchy".  Without going into a great deal of depth, let me just generalize ... high quality wool is not itchy.  I have sewn and knit with all quality levels of  wool ... believe me, you can feel the difference.

I eventually gave up the dream of having a sheep farm ... but that didn't change my love for wool!  I live in an climate (temperate rain forest) that allows us to wear wool nearly year round.  Wool really is the only fiber, natural or manmade, that keeps you warm even when wet.  In my remote corner of the planet, we are usually wet! ;-)
This was the view from my front deck this weekend ... yep, it was very rainy!  See what I mean ... doesn't it make you want to pull on a wool sweater? ;-)

One of the many blessings I enjoy in my remote corner of the planet, is the access I have to wool.  No ... we do not raise sheep here, but we do have an amazing yarn shop, The Net Loft.  When I travel, I always visit yarn and quilt shops along the way.  None have ever come close to this shop!   The shop and the owner inspire us to create knitted and woven projects ... wool ... it is just too much fun!  Here are a few wool knitting projects I've been working on recently...
  ... all that is left on this sweater is attaching the sleeves and blocking...
...I best finish this pair of mittens soon, it usually snows before Halloween...
...hand dyed yarn...future sweater for Brother DillyDally!

In the past year, I've been gradually entering the world of wool applique.  Those of you who have read this blog over the past year have seen my two projects.  While on the Minnesota Shop Hop this summer I started doing some collecting...
... I just love it all!  Especially the over dyed plaids!  I bought these with the intent ...
... of making this!  I bought this pattern way back in 2008 and have been dreaming about making it ever since!  It is a Simply Need'l Love pattern by Maggie Bonanomi.  This dillydally dream will eventually come true!

No ... I did not become a sheep farmer ... but my love affair with wool continues!  I do everything I can to support sheep farmers ... everyday involves the use of wool in one form or another.  Even our couch quilt is made with a wool batt!

After my great uncle and aunt passed on, my small community was without a sheep farm for many years.  However, in the past 10-15 years, a young couple bought a homestead farm in the area and are raising sheep.  Guess what kind of sheep they raise on Reedbird Farm?  Icelandic!  Can you believe it?

Our dreams don't always materialize in the way we envision them ... there is often a far bigger plan.

She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.  Proberbs 31:13 KJV


  1. I'm totally in love with fiber and I don't knit but that will soon change. A new yarn shop shop opened across the street from the shop..gonna learn to make those pointy things click click....

  2. You made me want to get my few wool things out!
    Love those mittens and that sweater - gorgeous!