Each spring, when we shear our sheep, we garner nearly 800 pounds of raw wool. Sticky and pungent with lanoline, we pack the fleeces into huge bags and road trip them to Ewetopia Woolen Mill in La Farge, Wisconsin, where it is cleaned, carded and hand dye to our specifications. What returns to the farm are bags full of beautiful roving — carded wool in one continuous tube like big pasta in the bag.
This wool roving is the perfect material for needle felting. Using a sharp, barbed tool, I wrap, fold, twist, or lay out the wool and repeatedly micro-stab it with the felting needle. As the barbs slide across the wool fibers they cause the tiny scales of the wool structure to ratchet together. The more I poke it, the tighter and firmer the piece becomes. It’s like magic. What once was a pile of fluff can become anything you can imagine — a dog, a fairy, a bird, whatever.