Wendy Gray unrolled a large ball of colored and carded wool.
“There’s so many things you can do with this,” she told more than a dozen children gathered Saturday morning in the main hallway at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School. The students were there to watch the process of preparing freshly-sheared wool.
“It’s kind of clumpy when it comes off the sheep,” she said. But a quick wash, some carding and a touch of dye transform the wool, making it sweater ready, or for the kids participating in the workshop, felting ready. At the end of the Field and Felt program, an offshoot of one of Ms. Gray’s project period classes, everyone would have a bar of felted soap to take home. The wool wrapped around the soap and will shrink to fit as the bar gets used up, holding in all the little pieces that break off during bath time.
Charter school students Ada Chronister, Sarah Taylor and Willa Welch were on hand to help out the younger students as they prepared their soaps. There was a brief distraction from felting as Ned Allen-Posin entered carrying a two-year old Corriedale ewe. The ewe is one of about 40 wintering over at the Allen Farm in Chilmark. The ewe was bottle fed as a lamb, Mr. Allen-Posin explained, and is “really mellow.”
The sheep was right at eye level for many of the kids who gathered to pet her thick wool.
“It’s very soft,” one said.