When I was writing Druyan’s story, though, it was a different world. I made my first drop spindle from a crochet hook and part of a wooden stacking toy. My first fiber was hair from our German Shepherd. Then some wool from a sheep named Hildy, a gift from a classmate in a pottery class. There was no on-line shopping to put all the world’s fiber at my fingertips—most wool went straight to the Wool Pool. When I managed to buy two fleeces—one white, one dark gray—I had no idea how to clean or store them, so moths got both.
I heard about a spinner’s festival. Bought a proper drop spindle, a set of wool carding combs, and half a Corriedale fleece, labeled “ewe, just had twins.” Discovered the Otter Creek Store, and Handwoven Magazine, and began to learn the ways of fiber. Did a lot of dyeing, using onion skins and walnut hulls and so forth. And sometimes I was given fleece. It’s hard to say no, even when you know the sheep were sheared because they got into burrs and the shearer refused to have anything to do with the fleece. And they were lamb-production sheep anyway, so the fiber was short. But it was wool! And as on-line platforms such as Etsy came into being, I could try small bags of better fleece—which I thought was enough for my needs.
I had finally joined the Canfield Ohio Spinners’ Guild. We were invited to the Wool Festival at the Metroparks Farmpark—if your name was on a guild list, there was no admission fee! There were vendors. There was a whole tent of Farmpark fleeces—I heard the “special” ones went the night before, vendors getting first choice as a perk, but everything they had left was special to me. I bought Jacob, Scottish Blackface, Cheviot, Shetland. I was in hog heaven.
One of those fleeces was labeled “Jake, Jacob wether.” (A wether is a neutered sheep.) I never wanted to spin anything else—I dyed Jake’s fleece with Rit Evening Blue and spun in sparkles from Buffalo Snow. I dyed Jake with Kool-Aid. But Pete, the Jacob ram Jake was a babysitter/companion for had nice fleece too. I met both these boys, even helped shear Pete once at the demo—one clip, just so I could say I did it! Then I picked up a huge fleece marked “finn” which turned out to be from Chevy, Pete’s successor as a ram. Over 12 pounds, super long staple, spins like a dream. My choice for Spinzilla, last year and this.
Now, what sort of sheep would Druyan run at Splaine Garth? At the time, I knew so little of sheep, I barely thought about it. As I reflect now, I suspect she’d be into Romneys. After all, Splaine Garth is a marsh!