If you’ve been reading this blog for that long, which probably you haven’t, you may remember waaaaay back at the beginning when I got hooked on spinning, and I said I was thinking of hanging out in Downtown Buxton (‘downtown Buxton’, hee-hee, that would mean ‘at the barber shop’) with a sign around my neck reading “will work for wool”?

Yeah, well that actually turned out pretty well for me, in fact.  And then I got these sheep.  These darling, personality-packed oh-how-I-love-them sheep. Dating from about a week before the sheep actually moved in, Raven and I had started talking about the concept of a Fibre Co-Op.  He’d been hearing/reading about some co-operative crop farms, and things were working pretty well for the people involved in those ventures – so well that one of them was planning to expand into livestock in the following year.  (The popular term I believe is CSA – Community Supported Agriculture.  I’m ignoring that for the moment, but you can call it whatever makes you happy.

We couldn’t see any particular reason why the same idea wouldn’t work for fibre, and so we both got kind of set on the idea.  Then Jodi found and sent me a link to the  Martha’s Vineyard site,  which basically just proved that the time was right for this sort of thing and  other people were having the same idea.

So we spent a year and a bit learning about being shepherds, we got a new ram and some more pasture, we got a llama.  And we still want to do this thing.  So we’re doing it.  (Really, we’re actually doing it!  We have members already!  Welcome, people!)  There are still shares available through that etsy link up on the right.  I am not posting all the shares at once, because I don’t know whether there will be more interest in roving or in yarn, so if you try to buy in and they’re sold out, just email me or comment and I’ll let you know what the actual status is.

Since this is the first year, we have dramatically limited the shares.  At the moment I am processing all the wool myself  – this will probably change in the future, but only if I can find a trustworthy, preferably small-scale and local milling operation.  I am already looking at options, but dudes, there is a rant coming.  Anyway.  In order that everybody get a nice big share of the wooly harvest, and in a timely manner, and in order that we can together improve and hopefully expand the operation, we’re starting small.

I’ve set it up so you can purchase either a yarn share or a roving share (or both, who am I to judge?).  Each annual share equals about five pounds of wool through the year.  There are three farms providing wool, so you will get some Blackface, some Rambouillet, some Lincoln and some Llama – although the llama will be just a taste, ‘cos he’s not so big yet and there’s only one of him.  But dudes, Virgin Llama – it’s like a first-year bonus package!  Some of the wool will be 100% insert-sheep-here, some blended, so you can have a nice sampling of what these wools are like and what you can do with them.

I was stymied for a while trying to figure out what to do about colours – didn’t seem fair for me to pick, and anyway lots of people may want to dye their own – but offering all the bazillion options for weights and colors and not was just going to turn into a paperwork nightmare.  Then I found Willow Tree Farms, and they are using the smack-yourself-in-the-forehead-it’s-so-obvious solution: before each shipment goes out, everybody gets a colour sheet and they can pick what they like best from a selection of dyed or hand painted (or natural).  That way you know and have some more control over what you get.  And over time the available colourways will grow, as we get struck by inspiration/aspiration.

As far as member participation goes – your money will be used to sustain and improve the flock (i.e. breeding for more yummy wool) and generally allow them to live their happy sheepy lives in whatever way makes them comfortable.  In return, you get a bunch of wool.  But it doesn’t have to stop there – your comments and questions are welcome and your ideas will be given serious consideration.  And of course, if you’re in the area, stop by and have a visit.  We won’t make you shovel poop, and you can take Blackie for a walk.  She loves that.

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