“There are great interdisciplinary opportunities between our classes to build an emotional connection between fashion and agriculture. I mean, fashion comes from agriculture. It’s a resource.”
June 13, 2019
“Within 10 minutes, we looked at each other and we were like, ‘Oh my God.’ I have sheep and he needs fleece — it’s a no-brainer,” Clarida said. “The sheep we have at King Campus, they absolutely need to be shorn. They get hot and they can’t regulate their body temperature.”
The collaboration between Clarida and Sparks resulted in a sheep shearing project that saw more than 100 students from both of their programs pass through the barns at King Campus recently, learning about the process of shearing wool and turning it into yarn and clothes.
“There are great interdisciplinary opportunities between our classes to build an emotional connection between fashion and agriculture,” Sparks said. “I mean, fashion comes from agriculture. It’s a resource. The sheep fleece at King was being discarded or donated and yet, in the fashion program, we were purchasing it.”
A total of 14 sheep were shorn by Don Metherall, a Canadian champion shearer formerly ranked top 20 in the world.
Wool processing: fleece to fabric
During the sheep shearing project, students learned about how fabric is made from fleece. A member of the Upper Canada Fibreshed, the Fashion Arts class took some raw wool back to their textile lab and studied the process of cleaning, carding, felting/spinning. The fibre will be processed by Wool 4 Ewe, and the yarn will be used in the program’s knitwear and textile classes as well as felting and weaving projects.
Wool is a sustainable fibre that is biodegradable, breathable and highly versatile. It is also unique in its ability to felt. This is when wool fibre is subject to a mixture of moisture, heat, soap and friction. The moisture heat and soap open up the scales on the fibre surface and friction causes the fibres to latch onto one another, almost like Velcro.
Sheep shearing with a champion
Sheep at Seneca’s King Campus are shorn once a year, typically during the spring. As part of the sheep shearing project, a total of 14 sheep were in good hands with Don Metherall, a Canadian champion shearer formerly ranked top 20 in the world. He has been shearing for almost two decades, shearing about 28,000 sheep each year.