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Inside the Ribbon Tin: November

November 30, 2014

IMG_1078Inside the Ribbon Tin is a monthly series featuring a miscellany of bits and bobs, odds and sods, knicks and knacks, all sorts of interesting things related to textiles and making. Come and see what is inside the Ribbon Tin this month.

First out of the tin this month is this marvellous pin cushion made by Our Dear Niece.

IMG_20141130_212900She is in junior high school and revealing herself to be a very self directed, innovative maker. Lacking a sewing machine, she hand stitches everything, including purses and bags. The Force is strong in this one.

For those who have not yet encountered the Force, the Handmakers Factory in Melbourne, is trying to spread basic craft skills to more folks. Through Dreamstarter crowd funding, they are attempting to raise enough money to custom fit a Mend It Workshop truck which would see a mobile sewing centre upskilling folks to mend zips and put hems instead of throwing stuff away. Give them a hand if you can.

IMG_2357Reading about spinning all the yarn you need to weave every cloth and fabric needed by your family gives you an appreciation of the importance of mending. AnnieCholewa.com is offering a delightful opportunity to join a read-along of my fave and yours, Women’s Work: the first 20,000 years, by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. This is a book to read and reread so I reckon I might just hop along to this read-along.

adventuresinyarnfarmingIn honour of the end of Wovember, I thought I would share this description of sheep shearing from a book I am reading at the moment, Adventures in Yarn Farming: Four Seasons on a New England Farm (2013) by Barbara Parry.

The process of separating sheep from fleece is a bit like unzipping a baby in a bunting. Andy starts by unbuttoning the belly wool with a series of short strokes of the shears called ‘blows’. Protecting the udder with his hand, he works the blade carefully around the crutch, the ewe’s hindquarters. He next unfleeces the left rear leg, then unzips the upper portion of the fleece at the inside of the neck like a sweater, by working the comb upward from brisket to chin. He cleans the face and strips the left front shoulder. A deft 90-degree pivot of a ewe on her fanny [rump] is followed by the long blows that run the entire length of the sheep from tail to ears. He then strips the right flank. There is no rushing here, this is not a race. Working entirely within the moment to the rattle and hum of the shears, we breathe and channel our collective energy. The sheep stay mellow. The fleeces are exquisite.

I imagine when you have that kind of skill, the work almost becomes an act of non-doing where the sheep, the shearer and the blade move almost as one in the separation of fleece from sheep. No wonder the sheep are mellow, I feel mellow just reading it!

And that’s all folks…till next month.


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  1. I commend your niece for taking on hand sewing, it can be quite relaxing. my sister once made herself, by hand, a woolen cape (from neck to ankles) when she lived in Switzerland!!! And since that country at the time did NOT look kindly on anything that was out of the ordinary she got some very strange looks and finally had to give it up! I do like the bottle with the pin cushion and think I am going to pinch that idea 🙂 I love the idea of the Handmakers Factory. The book list bares some further investigation. Thank you.

  2. I’ve spotted “Adventures in Yarn Farming” a year ago. I don’t know why I still haven’t bought it. It sounds amazing. Thank you for reminding me. I love the idea of spreading more craft skills around. Love your November’s Ribbon Tin.

  3. A mobile Mend It workshop truck is such a great idea. So is a read along of Women’s Work. I’ve always been fascintated with the skill of shearers, Barbara’s description makes it sound so beautiful! A big 3 cheers to your neice and her crafty ways, may her sewing jar be a faithful companion through many sewing adventures.

  4. I always look forward to these posts, Rebecca! You share such beauty in your corner of the Internet. I’ve always wanted to watch sheep being sheared in person, but I don’t believe I ever have. When I was a little girl we were always taken in school to the Royal Winter Fair, but I have horrible hay allergies and so was usually left wheezing and forced to leave the pavilion! Have you ever seen the film Sweetgrass? If you haven’t you might enjoy the imagery. It has stayed in my mind long since I watched it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AV9iah71iPQ

    Brava to your niece! I hope she doesn’t give it up. I started early by making strange things for my Barbie dolls using my mother’s sewing notions, but then after a certain point I stopped…until now! 🙂

  5. I also ordered a copy of Women’s Work after your last post – and it’s just arrived – can’t wait to get started reading!!

  6. That description of sheep shearing is perfect isn’t it.

    Thank you so much for giving the readalong a mention, in fact thank you for reminding me about the book. Quite a few folk hope to join in, it should be fun!

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