So the past year and a half (or so) I have been working on something.
It was something that began with my own wool breed studies. It’s often a natural progression for a spinner to start with whatever you can get your hands on, then as your experience grows, your desire to learn more grows with it. You start to learn about worsted vs. woollen preps, or how one breed of sheep might be better for socks than a shawl.
You start to get a feel of what your favourites are, and you move past the often-advertised merinos and start really delving into the Shetlands and the Finns and the Gotlands.
And not only that, because a whole world of crossbreeds presents itself, too; a Merino/Romney with a crimpy soft hand, but harder wearing capabilities. A Jacob/Shetland cross that gives you the softness of Shetland down but the staple length you can get from a Jacob.
Over my years with hand spinning, I learned that I have a serious soft spot for Jacob, Finn, and Cheviot. I learned that I really do love a complete worsted prep and spin. And when I started my own breed studies, I realized the possibilities were vast, and a whole world, literally, opened up at my fingertips.
I started connecting with farmers. At first glance, it appeared that in my area, farms were raising Suffolk and Dorset and Arcotts. But with a bit more digging, I found farmers with dozens of breeds, all across the fibre landscape. On top of that there’s alpaca and llama and bison and goat… the list seemed almost endless.
In early 2017 I made a few farm visits and fell in love with the process I had begun. I learned that Alberta has a rich wealth of fibre livestock. I learned that processing my own fleeces gave me a connection with that fibre, the animal, and the land it came from. I gained a new perspective and a new appreciation for these fibre animals, and the people who raise them.
I know not everybody is as lucky as me – to be able to drive a relatively short distance from home and hit several farms isn’t in the cards for everybody. I heard from other Canadians that they just didn’t have the opportunity to visit farms, or the space in their homes for huge amounts of fleece.
What you see of Dominion Fleece & Fibre today is the first step in what I hope to build – a way to help support our fibresheds by purchasing directly from the farmers, and to raise awareness about this amazing resource we have in our own back yards. I want to help share this diversity across the country with other fibre artists and crafters.
Consider this Dominion Fleece & Fibre’s soft open. In the shop, you’ll see what I have available right now. With at least half a dozen more farm visits in the next two months as farmers shear their flocks, you can expect several more breeds to be making their appearance here. There will be supplies and tools available to help you wash your fleece and organize your stashes – if you head on over to Spinning Accessories you’ll find the beginnings of this.
And, I have more plans. I hope to use this blog to highlight tips and tricks on washing, preparing and using your raw fleeces. More importantly, I hope to use this space to highlight some of our fibre farmers, so you can get to know them as well as I have.
So, welcome. I look forward to hearing from you, and to seeing your creations.