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When I say that Peggy Orenstein created a sweater from scratch, I mean wrestling a sheep to the ground and relieving it of its wool. Carding said wool by hand while Zooming with her father, who sometimes knew who she was. Spinning that lovely fluff, with all the typical push-pull-stop-go of a beginning spinner. Dyeing the yarn with colors from her backyard and beyond. After that, knitting the sweater was a breeze, sort of. (And despite the title of her book, Unraveling: What I Learned About Life While Shearing Sheep, Dyeing Wool, and Making the World's Ugliest Sweater, it’s definitely not the world’s ugliest.)
But there were more lessons to be taken from this year-long odyssey. Lessons about fast fashion, regenerative agriculture, ancient goddesses, a planet at risk. The list goes on. The handmade thread, metaphorical or physical, ties together our human history, not neatly but with complicated and important entanglements.
Unraveling is not a how-to book. If you know much about any of the steps in the process of turning wool into wardrobe, you will smile or sometimes wince at the author’s fearless approach. But so much to think about! She gives us so much to think about!
This episode is brought to you by:
Treenway Silks is where weavers, spinners, knitters and stitchers find the silk they love. Select from the largest variety of silk spinning fibers, silk yarn, and silk threads & ribbons at TreenwaySilks.com. You'll discover a rainbow of colors, thoughtfully hand-dyed in Colorado. Love natural? Treenway's array of wild silks provide choices beyond white.
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Unraveling: What I Learned About Life While Shearing Sheep, Dyeing Wool, and Making the World's Ugliest Sweater
"The Revolutionary Power of a Skein of Yarn" , New York Times, January 27, 2023