Sheep-to-Shawl at the Blackberry Faire

Sheep-to-Shawl at the Blackberry Faire

by Isabelle Fusey for the Denman Island Spinners and Weavers (DISW), published in the Flagstone August 1, 2019
Photo by Carol Hummer

Don’t miss the “Sheep-to-Shawl” at the Blackberry Faire on September 1. Drop by between 11 AM and 3 PM to see members and friends of the DISW spin a local fleece donated by Sandstone Farm into yarn and then weave the yarn into a shawl dyed with local plants. The shawl will be raffled by donation at the end of the day with proceeds going to the Denman Island Food Bank. We count on your generosity! You will also have the opportunity to try weaving and spinning.

According to a very informal survey by the DISW, there are about 100 sheep on Denman Island, or roughly one per 10 humans. Compare this to a ratio of six sheep per New Zealander!

We have Romneys, Baby Dolls, Suffolks, East Friesians, Clun Forests, Friesian Blacks, and various crossbreeds. Eight llamas and six alpacas also call Denman home.

Some of the local breeders process the fleece themselves (e.g., wash, card, spin, and knit), others have it processed commercially, some use it for insulation or compost it, and the rest give it to the shearer.

You can find “10-mile” socks, gloves, hats, duvets, blankets, shawls, and artwork made from the fleece of these wonderful animals at the Saturday market, the local craft stores, and local artists’ studios. Fern Niedermoser felts the fleece of her Romneys into stunning wall hangings and rugs which are for sale at the Saturday market. Rosemary Fell’s alpacas and llamas live a happy life on Greenhill Road. Rosemary is also a professional shearer who specializes in camelids. The fleece from Rosemary’s animals is made into hats, gloves, socks and other products that you can buy directly from her or find at the Felt & Fibre shop downtown which is also loaded with all sorts of Denman sheep wool BAAAAIng to be used!

If you are interested not only in supporting our local fibre economy but also want the company of wool artists, consider joining the Denman Island Spinners and Weavers. Our group of about 20 members weave in a bright and lovely repurposed classroom in the Old School. Drop by for a visit on Mondays between 10 AM and 1:30 PM to see—and hear—up to a dozen looms in action. There is a loom waiting for you.