I’m calling it the Peggy Orenstein effect: my renewed and deepened interest in the husbandry of sheep, our ancient wool-bearing friends. Shortly before our Zoom conversation with the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Unraveling: What I Learned About Life While Shearing Sheep, Dyeing Wool, and Making the World’s Ugliest Sweater, I had watched this short video from the Livestock Conservancy, because Isabella Rossellini, its executive producer, had shared it on her Instagram.
Now, in the light of Peggy’s vivid writing about her experience shearing a sheep (3 sheep, to be exact), I’ve rewatched the video several times, and I’m even more impressed with Peggy’s grit in learning to do such a demanding thing, that needs to be done so well.
The video, which you can watch in its entirety in the window up top, is a beautifully produced explainer. Renowned animal behavior scientist Temple Grandin tells us matter-of-factly about the importance of shearing sheep (since they have been bred not to shed), and of doing it humanely. Shearers Stephany Wilkes (in Northern California) and Tabbethia Haubold (on Long Island) talk about their tools, techniques, and approach, and then, in a montage that is almost a ballet, they each shear a sheep. Near the end, we see fleece being spun at Battenkill Fibers in New York State, and we learn about the role that we, as consumers of wool, play in preserving the DNA of rare breeds. Our purchase and use of of domestically grown and spun wool is a crucial factor in farmers and yarnmakers being able to keep making the marvelously useful, beautiful, compostable, and renewable product that is wool.
For those of us who love sheep and wool, How to Shear a Sheep is a beautiful and informative way to spend 11 1/2 minutes. It’s also a wonderful video to share with folks who might be interested to know more about the importance of biodiversity and animal welfare. Forward away!
This week’s prize is two skeins of our favorite U.S.-grown, U.S.-spun, U.S.-dyed wool yarn. You guessed it: MDK Atlas. We’re proud to be a small link in a virtuous supply chain, and it’s pretty easy since we also love knitting with Atlas. The winner can choose from the colors we have in stock. (A restock of our Atlas shades is on the way! Soon we hope!)
How to enter?
Step 1: Sign up for MDK emails, right here. If you’re already signed up, you’re all set. We have a new option for texting, so when you sign up for those, you’ll get a coupon code good for 10% off your next MDK order.
Step 2: What’s your favorite fiber to knit with? Leave a comment letting us know.
Deadline for entries: Sunday, March 26, 11:59 PM Central time. We’ll draw a random winner from the entries. Winner will be notified by email.