Once again, it’s time for the Wool Frolic at Landis Valley Farm Museum.
Every year for the past five, weavers and spinners, fiber artists and vendors have come to see the magic of wool as it is spun from fleece to yarn and turned into art and clothing,
The Wool Frolic, being held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, will feature live sheep. About half a dozen live on the farm yearlong. Some visitor sheep may be there, too. Guests can pet them.
The Lancaster Spinners and Weavers will be showing a variety of looms and spinning wheels and will be demonstrating how each works.
There won’t be any sheep shearing this time around, so there won’t be a full-fledged sheep-to-shawl contest.
“We’ll go one step past that,” says Wes Ball, the marketing coordinator for Landis Valley. “There will be piles of wool, and they will take you through all the stages.”
Merchants will be all through the grounds, selling fiber art, yarn, craft books, tools and more.
Plenty of hands-on activities for both kids and adults will be happening, including learning how to knit and crochet, natural wool dying techniques and weaving demonstrations.
Before you head out there, let’s get you knowledgeable on the subject of sheep and wool with these 10 items.
1. The world has over 1 billion sheep. Forty breeds live in the United States and 90 around the world.
2. Sheep were domesticated in Central Asia about 10,000 years ago, and raising sheep for wool or to sell is the world’s oldest organized industry.
3. Spinning wool by hand began around 3,500 B.C. The spinning wheel originated in the Islamic world around 1000 A.D. From there, it went to China, then India and then Europe.
4. A baby sheep is a lamb. A female sheep is a ewe and a male sheep is ram. A castrated sheep is known as a wether.
5. A year’s worth of fleece on a sheep is approximately eight pounds of wool. Most sheep are sheered once a year, though some breeds are sheared twice.
6. A newborn lamb can stand up and join the herd almost immediately after birth.
7. A ewe will have one to three lambs per litter and one to two litters a year. At birth, a lamb weighs between 5 and 8 pounds. A grown ewe can weigh up to 300 pounds, and a grown ram can weigh up to 400 pounds.
8. The average sheep eats between 2 and 4.6 pounds of food — mostly grain — in a day.
9. While sheep produce the vast majority of wool in the world, other animals have woolly coats, including angora from rabbits and mohair and cashmere from goats.
10. Among the most famous sheep in the world are:
Dolly, the first mammal cloned from an adult mammal.
Shrek, a Merino sheep who lived in New Zealand, would not let anyone near enough to shear him. He avoided capture for six years. When he was finally sheared, it was televised on the New Zealand News. More than 59 pounds of wool was shorn off.
Methuselina was the world’s oldest sheep, living one month short of 26 years. Most sheep live between 10 and 12 years. The secret to Methuselina’s long life? Owner John Maciver believed it was because she had such good teeth.
And of course, there is Lamb Chop, the sock puppet who entertained a generation of children in the 1960s with her friend, Shari Lewis.¶