From Wool to Spool
The Journey of Locally-Sourced Yarn

Exploring the world of crafting with locally-sourced yarn is a perfect way to discover the world of agricultural tourism in Lewis County, and many did just that in early January at one local shop.

More than 200 sheep call Black Sheep Creamery in Adna home, and on a Saturday in early January the lot of them would be lining up in a barn along Bunker Creek Road to get sheared. A handful of people, including farm owners Brad and Meg Gregory, participated in helping shuttle sheep through the line while a team from Portland operated the shears.

The sounds of loud music, sheep bleating and lively conversation filled the barn as one of the biggest tasks for the farm was tackled by a group of dedicated farmers and farmhands. The shearing is a massive undertaking, with more than 240 sheep losing their coats over the course of a full day.

Once the sheep were shorn, they were sent outside while the wool was gathered into large piles at the backside of the barn. The wool from the sheep will go toward a variety of uses: the good wool goes to make locally-sourced yarn, and even the bad wool is used too, as it will be used to make warm beds for dogs.

Some of that wool was trucked seven miles to the Gregorys’ other enterprise, Ewe and I, in downtown Chehalis on Jan. 9 for their Distaff Day celebration. The celebration was modeled after the St. Distaff Day celebrations in Catholic nations; a distaff itself is a rock used for spinning yarn.

The wool from the first sheep shorn at the Adna farm was on display for people to touch as they learned more about the process, all while a group of about a dozen women sat in the front of the store furiously spinning wool into yarn.

Ewe and I welcomed spinners from far and wide as part of the celebration, with women of all ages taking part in hand-spinning yarn from wool available at the store. In this process, one twists wool by hand and feeds it onto a spindle using a spinning wheel, thus creating a continuous thread of yarn that is then used for knitting and a variety of other purposes.

The spinning wheel works a little bit like a bicycle in that one uses a foot pedal to keep the wheel spinning, which in turn gathers the yarn onto a spindle.

There’s a definite art to spinning yarn, and some people at Ewe and I on Saturday showed their prowess as they had known how to spin wool for years. The event also brought forth several beginners who had an interest in the craft but never had done so before, but ended up picking up the craft as if it were second nature.

Saturday wasn’t the only opportunity to get a good glimpse into the world of spinning and knitting. Ewe and I, located at the north end of Market Boulevard in Chehalis, regularly opens its doors for classes that are open to all the public, so check out their Facebook page for further information.

Keep checking back here on the DLC Blog in the coming weeks and months as we give you a look into several farms and other agricultural tourism centers throughout our county that welcome you to come partake of their bounty!