From Pecora to Penny Pouch

By Aaron Gilliam

The reawakening of my crafty inner self, was, as usual, brought on by the restraint of sickness. When my body fails to provide me with the daily freedom that I so easily take for granted, and I am forced to be still, my mind regains its place of balance in my being, often bringing with it much appreciated clarity. Today it motivated me to recapture the desire for learning and creating.
Thanks to the world wide web through which I connect to you now, I was able to bone up on a bit of my favorite pastime activities from my sickbed this morning. Unfortunately I didn’t have the energy or means to easily procure sinew for making cordage or strengthening wooden bows, nor could I practice my tracking and trapping skills within the confines of the house. But I was reminded of another project that had gone forgotten and was perfect for a slow day at home: Felting.


On the Sheep farm in Tuscany where Patrick and I spent a good chunk of our winter vacation, I had filled a grocery bag to the gills with stinky, oily sheep wool. Nothing that you would willingly purchase from a knitting store or online catalog, this stuff with 50% sheep-turd dreadlocks, 20% alfalfa flakes, and 30% greasy mutton fluff. Our first step of the process was nit pickin.’ Of course finding a suitable work space that could smell like dirty sheep for the next month would have been step Zero had we the foresight.  Evading step Zero we settled down in the dinning room with a bag of sheerings, a garbage bin between us, and two hair nets into which we stuffed our “cleaned” wool.


Next was the true cleaning process, which we hoped would remove the infamously smelly and permanent lanolin oil from the wool. For me it was actually quite calming to have my nose registering farm smells again, and as the sun began to sink towards the snow covered Alps in the west, a faint light inside of me burned brighter with the sense of connection to the earth.

As recommended by a handful of ladies on YouTube videos from the mornings info reconnaissance sessions, we soaked, without agitating (much), our hairnet baggies of wool, first in very soapy, hot water for an hour, and then two half hour intervals of clean hot water. What we got was a slightly cleaner, yet still speckled with flakes of debris, mat of sheep wool.

From here we pulled our soggy mats into strips and began wrapping them in opposing directions around a bar of soap. When the soap was completely hidden by the layers of wool and straw bits we double wrapped the wooly buggers in two hair nets and vigorously rubbed them on a washing board for 7 minutes or so. Then we passed our hair-covered soap bars through a few hat bath – cold bath – hot bath treatments. It seemed like everything was holding together pretty well so we removed the hair nets, cut slits in the end of the wool bars, and with a bit of luck forced the cores of Dove out of their cocoons.
With a few more hydrotherapy sessions, a series of vigorous massages, and a couple of minutes relaxing next to the heater we found our bundles of smelly sheep dreads looking like something entirely different: two scrotum shaped, fuzzy, penny pouches.

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2 Responses to “From Pecora to Penny Pouch”

  1. Charlie Says:

    Congratulations! Haha, you had Ryoko and I laughing with “sheep-turd dreadlocks”. Great stuff. What are you going to do with your scrotum shaped, fuzzy penny pouches?

  2. Katie Gilliam Says:

    Leave it to my brother to make lemonade from lemons.
    I love the pictures. Is that a toilet or bidet??? Sketchy or inventive…..undecided 😉
    Charge on you guys and gals. What an extraordinary bunch of people!

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