Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Smell of Sheep: Making Connections

As I noted previously, I purchased about 1/2 lb of dark BFL wool to spin up. As I was tearing apart the long roving into sizeable chunks, I noticed the smell.

It was a slight smell, but a smell nonetheless. It was the smell of sheep; albeit it was the smell of clean sheep. (Much like a freshly washed dog smells of clean dog, versus smelly dog).

It was a nice scent, and one that most of my other rovings and tops I had purchased previously did not have..or at least that I noticed. Maybe it was because this was 8 oz of wool versus 2 oz of sample fibers? Maybe because this wool was bagged at the mill versus being separated then bagged at a fiber supply shop.

I met a spinner who once told me that he was able to tell what wool he was spinning by the smell. I don't know if that's true or not, and it would certainly be difficult for me to 'test' at this moment, as I normally buy prepared fiber, versus raw fleeces.

However, I found that I LIKE the smell of the BFL. Admittedly, I sniffed the wool vigorously and have taken quick sniffs whenever I spin it (also keeping it tightly closed in a container, lest the cats decide they like the smell of sheep!)

It reminded me that this fiber came from a living, breathing animal that has frolicked (do sheep frolick?) on some pasture somewhere. I find myself connecting with the wool (and thus, to the animal(s) that provided it) and enjoying the process of spinning that much more.

I think in our modern-every-day life, we are so far removed from the land and the origins of so many of our daily products (food, clothing, etc), that we take for granted what we have. Our lack of 'connection' with our daily wares makes us more of a disposable culture - throwing things away because we have no connection with it.

If we ruin a meal, then it's no problem to go buy the ingredients again. But what about the plants or animals that were harvested or killed to make that food?

I read an article where two chefs went through the process of making goat tacos by picking out the goats from a ranch then watched the butchering process, and taking home the still warm meat. They wrote how they were so much more extra careful in their preparation, because of the process they had gone through and how they felt a connection to that animal. The warm meat on the counter strongly reminded them that this came from a living breathing animal.

Much like the smell of sheep reminds me that this wool comes from a living breathing animal. I mean, I *knew* it did before -- wool comes from sheep after all. But the smell make me seriously GROK that fact. I know that once I finish spinning this wool, then going through the process of making it into a sweater, that it'll mean more than just the time & effort required to spin & knit the sweater; I'll feel that connection to that dark BFL sheep that provided its fleece for my wool.

I think we all need to be reminded that our *things* must come from somewhere; be it a tree that was felled to make our spinning wheels, or a sheep that was sheared for wool....or even a sheep killed to provide a meal. Children should be taken to a farm to show them where our food comes from, or to a mill to show how cloth is made for our clothing.

We need to connect with what we have, to know where things originate from, so that we can truly appreciate what we've been given.