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My name is Marisa. I am from Galicia, Spain, but I am living with my partner and two small kids in the woods of São Mamede Natural Park (Marvão), in Southern Portugal. After several years working as a researcher in forest ecology, three years ago we bough the old farm where we live and I started a familiar project of local agroecological dynamization. The aim of this project was to make Portuguese yarn and its tradition more visible.
Because we are all surrounded mainly by Portuguese merino sheep, I try to recover the artisan work of wool processing. Also, I am very interested on the role of the shepherds, I want to value their work and its significance. Buying wool from local shepherds and paying them a fair price makes their work more sustainable. I also think about the importance of the the shearing process, this is basic in order to get the best fleeces quality avoiding second cuts, as the fiber length will be shorter, I also don’t want to harm the sheep. During shearing I skirt and classify the quality of the fleece, weak fleeces are discarded. To skirt is to remove the margins from neck, leg, belly and tail, areas with much shorter staples and prone to catch dirt and hay. Also, sweat locks filled with suint are removed. All sheep are free range and mulesing is not practiced.
The next step was to bring to the nearest mill a special batch of merino, the hole process was followed by me in the mill and this resulted in a woolen spun yarn that is non superwash, not bleached and have no silicone based softeners, it is a 2 ply yarn with 200m per 50g.
Yarn was dyed with plants that are found mainly in the surroundings, availability of colors depends on the seasons. All the water used in the process comes from a natural spring in our land, and it is reused in the garden. Dying is made in a wood stove and wood is the result of forest maintenance.