The recent storm gave an opportunity to accustom the sheep to staying in a more secure, but unfamiliar, shelter: under the house. Remembering their #1 rule: "Eat! ALOT!" (YarnTalk, chapter 3), I filled the white bucket with grain and they followed me single file to the house. Raising the lattice, we ducked under the porch floor and I set down a large trashcan lid as a tray and dumped in the grain. They gathered 'round, easily fitting under the 4-foot-high porch floor. Sheep like low roofs. I guess that's why sheep "folds" or "cotes" are built small. They feel more secure when all bunched together. But my efforts were in vain. They ate their fill and pushed their way past the lattice and out again to graze. They don't feel the rain unless it's hard on their faces. Wool insulates them against everything: rain, wind, heat,cold. Not like fur. During the storm, the dogs were also in and out, tracking water all over the floor. Their fur was always dripping. They were more curious about the storm and just wanted to make their rounds and check again. And again. The house is built for storms. When designing it, I was fascinated with old-style plans that accomodated the South's heat and humidity. Plans like breezeways, low eaves and wide overhangs, airy cupolas, and a whole-house fan. Windows,doors, and dogdoors are open almost year-round, allowing breezes (ok, winds) to blow through during the hot months. The dogs take advantage of this. It occurred to me I was mirroring my hurricane chapter in the book (YarnTalk, chapter 8). In the story, however, the sheep stayed put, even exploring, knocking about, or dragging around everything under the house: fallen insulation, tangled wiring, plumbing, stacks of pottery and garden tools. When the power cut out and the light dimmed, I switched my attention to crafts that didn't require electricity. I could hear them below the floor and they could hear me above, pounding away on the loom. Since storm gusts were not so severe, it was actually relaxing. Our mutual sounds kept us in touch with each other while outside, beyond the porch walls, the trees danced with the wind. YarnTalk is a work in progress, following the adventures of Ivy, the lamb, as she tries to learn about making a shawl. Occasional updates and excerpts are posted here.
When kids come to visit we can do a variety of things. Small weavings on cardboard? Large weavings on wooden frames? Maybe some paper-making, or vegie-dyeing on the fire. The sheep always demand their fair share of the day – another opportunity to eat! Mimosa or grain, they’ll take it all. Kids get to personally interact with them, something they might never have done. Soft wool feels good, soft mouths tickle their hands.
pullling mimosa for the sheep
Last Sunday, visitors arrived ready to play. We visited the pasture, then settled on the deck to see the weaving/spinning demos. Afterwards, everyone grabbed for their yarns and cardboard looms and jumped into the world of fiberarts. They were working on scout badges and so got to explore various fibers, textures, colors, and whatever they intended their final project to be. These projects are meant to be finished at home, so I hope that I will get to see them later. Meanwhile, check out the photos on FB.
For more info, contact me or see alicecappa.com –
“Dyed ‘N Wool” fiber activities for kids.
Ivy, the lamb, has found a place in my classroom demos. Since I’m a fiber artist, I often introduce myself by way of loading up all the weaving equipment and taking it to show students what I do. Starting with raw wool, it’s processed through carding, dyeing, spinning, and weaving. Often, the kids get hands-on experience by trying the loom and petting and feeding Ivy. Touching her wool, which is soft with natural lanolin, is a perfect way to present “texture”, one of my key concepts in many of the art activities.
Awhile back I started writing about the fiber process
from the sheep’s perspective. Do they wonder why their wool is taken and what happens to it? At the time, SnoBelle, a real lamb, inspired the first chapters of YarnTalk. SnoBelle got her name because she was born in a dark woods late in the night, and in the process of helping her mother, I could hardly see beyond black trees and thick black undergrowth . But the flashlight picked out the new lamb, which shown wet and bright in the darkness, white as snow. From the start, SnoBelle was an adventurer. She grew up to become Ivy’s grandmother.
Ivy is not fond of traveling, but once we arrive at our destination, she’s all for exploring and visiting with anyone who offers her a handout.I didn’t always have a lamb available that was small enough to fit in the car, or friendly or cooperative enough for visits. Ivy, actually two-yrs. old now, turned out to be a dwarf, and a bottlebaby. A neighbor helped feed her, familiarizing her with strangers and many dogs. At school, I give each student a small handful of grain, so that Ivy will go to each one as they sit in a circle and eat out of their hand. It tickles and the kids laugh. (It seems sheep will do anything for grain. Walking into one new classroom, she once made a beeline for the empty hamster cage, and devoured the leftover grain before I could pull her away. ) Hence the sheep’s #1 rule in the stories: “EAT food! ALOT.” Surprising even to me, Ivy follows on a leash and I found that while I’m talking to the class, she doesn’t need to be held and will just hang around and watch. See her in the photo, behind the spinning wheel. Most of our trips are an hour or two visiting a single class, but at one school, she was “on the job” the entire day, interacting with several classes while 200 kids waited in line to pet her. Ivy is a trooper and just as curious and independent as SnoBelle is in the stories.
For school visits, camps or private groups/birthdays, if you’re in the Tally area and would like a visit from Ivy, contact me for more info. You may also see more photos and art activities listed on my pages, “YarnTalk“, “School Presentations“, and “Dyed ‘N Wool Art Activities“.