Hand-dyed and handwoven shawl by my mother, Abigail McEnroe
It is always so wonderful to visit my parents on their small farm in upstate New York – to experience first hand the 'sheep-to-shawl' process continually underway in my mother's pastures, barn, and upstairs studio.
Humanely procured fleece like this is an art form unto itself
My mother has been working to perfect this Blue Faced Leicester and Finnsheep cross for years now, and she seems close to satisfied in terms of the length of the fleece and its gorgeous, lustrous quality. During the time of my visit she was busy preparing for various craft fairs and exhibits in the Cooperstown region, and she gave me a sneak preview of the above shawl and its painted skein warp technique. Read more about the 'painted skein' technique in this great article by Aviva Leigh for HAND/EYE magazine online.
A quiet moment in my mother's fiber and weaving studio
There is something transformative about experiencing the field and the flock together – while observing the ewes' movements from dawn to dusk, and witnessing how all of this translates into a final creation that is either wearable or simply an homage to humane husbandry and old-fashioned farming practices. I guess that I am a bit spoiled as some one who observed this slow process during my childhood, and thanks to my mother, now have a lot of these ideas ingrained like the warp and weft of a colorful map that brings me home again – no matter where I chose to roam.
My mother's flock grazing peacefully at sunset
(all photos by Abigail Doan)