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Monday, May 30, 2011

A Reason for Everything

While I am washing the pounds of Black Welsh Mountain ewe lamb for my next Sheep Study segment, I started thinking about why I am so interested in these rare breeds, or even studying sheep at all. It's not that this is an extremely popular area of study, being that there are only 3 comprehensive books about sheep breeds and their fleeces for handspinning. It's also not because there is any money in it. I don't expect to be able to live on the proceeds from my Etsy shop to cover the cost of studying these breeds.

What it really boils down to is that I love sheep. I do. I love all the wonderful things they allow us to do. If the zombie apocalypse struck, I would have to make sure I had a protected flock of sheep in order to help me survive. Meat, milk, and wool, all in one package. And I love the diversity.

Perhaps I should explain. Many, many years ago, I fancied myself a biologist. I was prepared to get my undergraduate degree in Biology, with a concentration in genetics. I wanted to work on the Human Genome Project. I wanted to study how genes and biodiversity affect everything we do. Unfortunately, two years into my degree, the scientific community announced that they had "completed" the Human Genome Project. I had to look for another degree.

I fell into Linguistics, almost by accident. I was "good" at learning languages. But I spent a good portion of my time studying how the language was put together, not how to actually speak it. I relied on my schooling to keep me entertained while I mused about why a certain section of a word would mean a certain thing. I ended up graduating with a BA in Linguistics, with a concentration in Morphology and Syntax.  Linguistics has a manner of trying to document a language as a way to preserve it. We catalog all those words and morphemes in order to remember them, even as language evolves and deletes words from the lexicon.

I suppose it should come as no surprise that preserving languages and genetics would feed into my love of preserving Sheep as well. I recognize that the human civilization has done a lot of damage to niche populations of all manner of creatures. And most of the time, I am at a loss as to what I, as an individual, can do.  But I look at sheep, and think "I can save them".  Being a knitter, I can buy yarns made from the wool of all manner of breeds. Being a spinner, I can buy fleeces, and study how these different breeds behave, and what uses their wools have in the real world. Being a business owner, I can bring these sheep breeds to my customers. I can raise awareness as to why these breeds are so important, and why we want to spin and weave and knit with them.

It's only taken me 6 years to find a calling as engaging as this. I am not that old. But I certainly recognize that time is of the essence. This is why I do the things that I do. Why I invest money and time into something that has no real monetary gain for me or my household. I do it because it's important. I do it because it feels right. I do it because there is a cute little sheep that stares at me in the back of my mind, reminding me that if we crafters don't take the steps necessary to preserve them, then who will?

Was this post helpful or inspiring? Leave a comment and tell me what you think. Or, visit my shop and browse to see what breeds I am currently offering. It all starts with us.

All Photos in this post were found as part of the Creative Commons via

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