Fiber Art has captured my heart. Only a few years ago I was just learning to crochet my first dish cloth. The more I learned the more I wanted to know. I had Fiber Fever! Soon on my wish list was a Spinning Wheel and eventually I found myself in possession of a real, unwashed, stinky, trash embedded Fleece in the Grease! A friend who serves as a missionary in New Mexico graciously shipped it to me, right after shearing.
I was stunned by the state of this fleece. I truly thought I was prepared. I wasn’t. But, there it was, mine to process, so, there was nothing to do but begin. I would redeem it. I would wash it. I would transform it. At the end of the process I would use it for my purpose. After all, I had seen such a thing done before. Not with wool, but with a life, my life.
This fleece had been exposed to all the elements. It had weathered storms, rain, snow, grime and weeds. It had been unprotected, unsheltered, unwashed and was very unappealing. It needed to be introduced to some soap and water, but tenderly. You see we quickly learned that too much heat and agitation would ruin the potential of the wool turning it into a lump of matted mess that was unusable and valueless. We also learned that exposure to sunlight was very effective.
Once washed properly it smelled and looked so much better. I saw the potential, there had been progress, but we weren’t done. We were far from done. Next was the picking and the carding. Picking was a bit unpleasant and honestly a little tedious. Even after a thorough washing there were seeds and briars and stuff you may not care to visualize embedded into the fibers. Tiny particles left unattended would later become irritants and imperfections in the created fabric. It was essential to remove every foreign object we could see, one pick at a time.
Wool carding has been being done for centuries and while there are carding machines available, I chose the traditional wooden carders. This part of the process took finesse and a little muscle. I was transfixed as I saw the fibers being pulled and straightened and put in order. I was shocked when occasionally after all my washing and picking to see a thorn or tiny piece of trash revealed as the fibers were being carded.
After hand carding the fibers were gently formed into rolags. A rolag is simply a roll of carded (combed) fiber. It was clean, smelled better, looked better, impurities were removed and in fibers in order. Still, the process would continue.
The fibers needed to be strengthened before they could be properly used to create yarn that would become a fabric that would become a garment. This was the greatest challenge of all. Applying proper tension, giving and resisting the feed, a smooth rhythm of the peddles and wheel would result in a strong yarn that could be crocheted, knitted or woven.
Now, finally the fleece had reached a point where in the right hands its could become an object of beauty, of great use. A purpose could be revealed. A pattern could be established.
I don’t know where you may be in this process. Perhaps you have yet to be redeemed. Perhaps you are just beginning to be washed. Perhaps you are picking and picking and picking. Perhaps you feel as if you are being raked over the sharp pins of a carder. Perhaps the life is spinning and twisting like a spinning wheel right now. Wherever you are in the process, don’t give up and quit. You’re in the hand of the Master Artist and He is creating something magnificent.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6 NLT)