Jacob's Ladder Farm

Gozez-Potzea: Cloth-Making
Sheep to Shawl:
9 Cloth-Making Skills beginning with Sheep

Best for ages 5 & up

11th & 12th graders at the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, MD, learn to calm a sheep (R) and clip wool (L) without hurting the sheep. Photo credit: Jeff Powers, Montgomery Journal.
High School Girls with sheep

Learn hands-on the Mishna's 9 steps of cloth-making (gozez to potzeia) used in creating tapestries for the Mishkan (Tabernacle) in the Wilderness thousands of years ago and today avoided on Shabbat. Play Shepherd & Shearer to learn how to calm a sheep, then shear (gozez) off a bit of wool from a live sheep without hurting it. Next, see a demonstration of two ways, in Rashi's time, wool was washed (milaben) either for water-proofing or dyeing, and how, in Rambam's day, wool was cleaned with a method too dangerous for us to try in the workshop!

Comb (minapetz) the tangles out of the wool using hand carders curved to sit comfortably in your lap, then discover how strong fluffy wool becomes when twisted--and why. Next, twirl a drop spindle to spin (toveh) roving into yarn. Program favorite: watch us gently pull molting wool from an Angora rabbit on our lap and direct it into a spinning wheel (going straight from gozez to toveh!). Dye (tzovea) wool; learn to warp (mesech), weave (oreg), and cut (potzea) the finished cloth on a mini-loom you can keep and reuse, then learn how to load a boat shuttle and coordinate the batei nirin (heddles) while weaving on a 10-treadle floor loom.

This workshop is based on books by Rabbi Baruch Chait, Rabbi P. Bodner, and Dayan I. Gukovitzki; a lecture-demonstration by Dayan I. Gukovitzki; and the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. Many thanks to Mrs. Sandy Gunzberg for donating an Ashford spinning wheel, Mrs. Rachel Donnette for donating drop spindles & hand carders, Woolworks for donating yarn, Mrs. Barbara Nypaver for donating a 10-treadle floor loom; Mrs. Elizabeth Lehman for warping the loom to the length of the parochet, Mrs. Meira Schnidman for the asmachtah on bunny spinning, and the Weaver's Place, Mrs. Judy Bickford, and Mrs. Cindy Lowther for invaluable advice and ideas on the weaving projects.

Length: 1-2 hours for a group of 20 people or fewer.

Cost: $11/person; one teacher/group free; adults who have done this program before are free; $350 minimum (you may be able to be piggy-backed before or after another group for a smaller minimum). $1/mile travelling fee. Pay for any two programs listed under ANIMALS and/or MELACHOT and get $2/person off the second program (you do not have to do both programs the same day.)

Prices may change without notice. All fees listed here are samples only. Your exact pricing will be worked out in your personalized contract.
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