Monday, July 1, 2013

Nash Island, 2013

photo by Gale Zucker (c) 2013

I've been on a trip, a trip so full and grounding that it is challenging to put into words.  So whatever I say here, magnify it if you will, please.  And fill in the gaps to make the story more wonderful, because it is.  My host for the weekend was Jani Estell of Starcroft Fiber.  My travel companions were the delightful photographer/designer Gale Zucker, and ever-fun knit designers Mary Jane Mucklestone and Ysolda Teague.

MJ and Ysolda with MJ's trusty gazeteer

We've been to Roundup on Nash Island, an island of sheep way way up in DownEast Maine.  Here is my post from the same event last year.

This year the flock numbers eighty one ladies, two gentlemen, one sort of in-betweener, and almost a hundred lambs. The sheep have lovely fleeces, cleaned by the bright sun and sea breezes.  I did not take my camera or my phone onto the island (sorry, I regret this), so the photos here are from the mainland, some taken by me, others by Gale Zucker

Once a year the flock is carefully rounded up by a herd of gentle people, and corralled into sea worn pens there on the island. The lambs are lifted over the fencing into waiting arms and shuttled into the lamb pen, a  chaotic musical chairs transaction with squirming and bleating, and folks with their feet stuck in the mud (well, me at least).  Alfie Wakeman, an island steward and shepherd, examines and treats each lamb with preventative meds, gives a friendly scratch, and then sets them loose.

Each adult sheep is shorn by one of three women - Donna, Gerri, or Eleni.  Watching these three women work all day long, doubled over at the waist, respectfully rolling and nudging the plump sheep and freeing them of their wool - well, it is empowering.  If they can do that, surely I can get the lid off the jar, dammit.

The weather this year was picture perfect (again, regretting the camera decision).  The warm sun helped to dry the dewy fleeces and burned the spots we missed with sunscreen.  One brave young gal went for a swim in the cold ocean.  Even if the weather had not been so clear, the workers for this event all maintain bright and sunny faces, no matter.

The wool is stuffed in burlap sacks and hoisted onto the waiting boats, shipped back to the mainland, and trucked to Jani's new mill, where I set up my cot and slept like a baby.  Bucket list item: Sleep in fiber mill, Check.

Jani's Wool Wagon

Ysolda and Grant weighing the wool
Nash Island Light samples, in the new mill

This, my friends, is the way wool is made.  With loyalty, tradition, team work, thoughtfulness, and really really hard work.  I love this wool.

Mary Rebecca, photo by GZ (c) 2013

photo by Gale Zucker (c) 2013


gale (she shoots sheep shots) said...

You said it right! That was one fabulous weekend. And, that IS one fabulous sweater. I want to knit one, and then next year I'll do a handstand too.

Mary Lou said...

Color me green! Maybe next year, it sounds like a perfect time. With garage sales!