One of the key themes of Wovember is closing the gap between producers and consumers of wool. There are many ways to do this as an individual; you can explore the provenance of wool in yarns you knit with or clothes you wear by learning about where and how they are produced, and you can ask companies which deal in wool how and where it comes from. Indeed these are some of the themes running through Louise’s post yesterday regarding her own commitment to supporting the British wool industry at different levels.
From the commercial side the gap between producers and consumers of wool can be closed a little by providing transparent information on where and how woolen products are made. For example the Icebreaker outdoor clothing company in New Zealand provide information about their whole supply chain, even running a special scheme by which you can trace the origins of your icebreaker garment to a specific New Zealand merino station by entering a baa code on the icebreaker website. These overtures towards greater traceability and accountability are to be applauded, but it is also worth remembering what can be done on an intimate local scale as well as on a large commercial one. When thinking about how best to close the gap between producers and consumers of wool does it ever get any better than actually hugging a sheep?
Sara Dunham of Punkin’s Patch pictured here with the very sheep that provided wool for the sweater she is wearing
Sara Dunham has written several beautiful pieces for Wovember in the past about her farm and the wonderful garments produced from the wool of her sheep. She is joining WOVEMBER 2014 as one of our guest contributors, and today she reveals what closing the gap can mean at its most personal level in her description of HUG A SHEEP DAY – surely be a date for every keen Wovemberist’s calendar! The gap between producers and consumers of wool really doesn’t get much smaller than actually cuddling the source of your clothes as Sara reveals in this wonderful guest post.
Because We All Love Sheep
Just like November is all about wool, the last Saturday in October at Equinox Farm in Kentucky is all about the sheep that grow that for us! Well, every day is all about the sheep, but the last Saturday is extra special because it’s Hug A Sheep Day!
We put up a small pen in front of the barn, bring out a group of huggable sheep, try to keep the cookie feeding to a minimum (yeah, right) and anyone who’d like to can go in and hang out with and hug a sheep (or maybe just pat the extra greasy ones, like Buddy, a Cotswold ;-).
The majority of our visitors that day are friends we’ve made through our farm blog. They know before they even get here who the sheep are and have their favorites. Some are characters they’ve enjoyed reading about. Crazy Miss Maisie.
Some are sheep they’ve knit sweaters, shawls, hats, mittens… from. Beanie Baby.
And for the folks who don’t know all of the individual sheep, I’ve created Mug Shots to identify “the criminals”. Why our shearer calls them that every year I don’t know. I suppose the fact that most of them eat far too many cookies and weigh twice what they should may have something to do with it ;-).
Along with sheep hugging and cookie feeding (or cookie feeding and sheep hugging 😉 if the weather is nice, folks gather in front of the Wool House with their spinning wheels, drop spindles, current knitting projects…
And then we have show and tell, which is always a highlight!
We love our sheep and are proud of what they have helped us make over the years, be it warm woolen sweaters or good friends – both! To be able to share that love with others is an honor. I don’t think anyone has left our farm without a new appreciation for sheep and wool. I can’t imagine a better life.
Thanks Sara for another beautiful contribution from your corner in the world: Punkin’s Patch. WOVEMBER heartily recommends Sara’s tale of Punkin – the sheep in whose memory her farm is named as a prime example of the profound effect that a single sheep can have on one person’s perception of wool.