The Art of Making Wool
Mimi Luebbermann raises sheep at Windrush Farm in Petaluma, California, where she works to educate the public about wool and fiber arts.
Mimi Luebbermann with her sheep at Windrush Farm in Petaluma, CA.
Windrush Farm is home to Corredale and Shetland sheep, who have been bred for their rich fur colors.
"Anything that I make from scratch is very appealing," says Luebbermann, "I went overboard. I bought a farm so I could raise the sheep, so I could spin the wool and knit the sweaters."
Windrush Farm operates on a zero waste model and Luebbermann strives to reuse everything that comes onto her land.
Raw sheep's wool waiting to be carded and spun.
"Fiber is so tactile and people are so hungry to touch real fiber," explains Luebbermann, "It's as if the cells know the difference between polyester and wool off a sheep's back."
"Wool is a fabulous fiber. It keeps you warm, it insulates, it wicks moisture, it can get wet, " says Luebbermann.
Most sheep grow wool throughout the year and are typically sheared each spring. Unlike other fibers, sheep's wool doesn't require pesticides to grow or chemicals to process.
Windrush Farm offers beginning spinning classes twice a year. "Spinning is challenging," says Luebbermann, "it can take years to learn but the process is very rewarding."
"In order to have the wool hold together, it needs to be twisted together. Once it twists together, it grabs hold and is strong," explains Luebbermann. "It's the spinning that's the magic."
"Spinning has a natural rhythm to it," explains Marlie de Swart, Luebbermann's longtime business partner, "it is very meditative."
Spinning raw sheep's wool into yarn.
Mimi Luebbermann and her business partner Marlie de Swart have started a wool CSA called Local Pastures that supplies knitters with yarn from shepherds within a fifty-mile radius.
Through their wool CSA, Luebbermann and de Swart hope to increase the demand for local wool in Northern California and beyond. "Knowing where your fiber comes from is just as important as knowing where your food comes from," says Leubberman.
"People don't realize that as much as they're hungry for real food, instead of plastic food, they're hungry for real fiber," says Luebbermann.
Luebbermann carefully spins wool in her barn.
Windrush Farm at twilight.
This article originally appeared in Global Oneness Project and is republished with permission. The Global Oneness Project has been producing and curating stories since 2006. Their collection of films, photography, articles, and educational materials explore the threads that connect culture, ecology, and beauty. The author, Mark Andrew Boyer, is a photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His work has appeared in Slate, Citylab, NPR, The Verge, Fast Company, OnEarth, KQED, GOOD, YES! Magazine,Inhabitat, Curbed and others.