This past Saturday, the cold rainy weather didn’t deter many families who enjoyed animals and displays at this year’s Lamb and Wool Festival at Thanksgiving Point. There was plenty to learn, from sheep shearing demonstrations to displays highlighting the many processes involved in wool processing, carding, yarn making and fibers arts.
The pouring rain couldn’t keep a large crowd from gathering to get a good look at the sheep shearing demonstration that was held outside. Different sheep breeds and colors were shorn throughout the afternoon, and kept the audience enthralled at the deft skill and handling of the sheerer. Young and old gasped and applauded as the sheep were brought out with fluffy coats and left with a fresh haircut. The sheepdogs didn’t make an appearance however, with the wet and muddy pastures being enough to keep them inside.
Wool enthusiasts gathered inside to show their goods and educate about wool use and fiber arts. Members of the Wasatch Woolpack Handspinners brought their spinning wheels and hand knitted clothing to show the processes of wool, from being brushed right after the initial washing to hand dyed wool being made into yarn. The handspinners worked with hand dyed wool of every color, from vibrant blues and greens to purples and browns.
The Wasatch Wooolpack Handspinners are a friendly and happy group with over 100 members statewide. When asked about what got her started in the art of spinning her own wool, President Jenny Ferguson laughed and said it started with Oprah. “I was watching an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show where she talked about living your passion. That night, I had a dream about owning my own farm and spinning yarn and didn’t want to wake up! I told my husband about it, and we sold our house and bought an alpaca farm and haven’t looked back. We love it.”
Most spinners sat at foot-powered spinning wheels making yarn. One beginning spinner was using a drop spindle to form her bright blue yarn. Ferguson said “Drop spindles have been found in ancient Mesopotamian cultures. The process of spinning yarn is one of the reasons for the industrial revolution. It’s been a huge part of the human experience.” Children and adults were fascinated by the spinning wheels and drawn to the good-natured spinners using them. These handspinners are clearly passionate about their hobby and the animals that make it possible. One spinner said, “You can come spin in my pasture anytime!”