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From Sheep to Hat Rack, Mickey Ramirez Sees Spots

Felted wool hats by Mickey Ramirez of Fort Collins.

Mickey Ramirez of Fort Collins designs felted wool hats with spots, reminiscent of the Jacob sheep that provide the wool.

On an acre of land just outside the northwest edge of Fort Collins, 15 Jacob sheep grow woolier by the week. You would never know they are there, though, as you drive by on Mulberry Street. They’re hidden from view behind the home of Mickey Ramirez and her husband John Pierson. If the sheep cared to look through a back window of the house, they might be able to see the hats that Mickey has made from the wool they were growing a year ago.

All the hats have spots, just as all the sheep do. Made of undyed wool, each hat comes exclusively from the wool of one sheep for uniformity of color and texture. Just as all the sheep are different from each other, so are all the hats.

Not every sheep on the lot contributes to Mickey’s hat making. It takes plenty of crimp and a minimum of kemp – coarse hairs that stick out in every direction – to be the kind of wool that Mickey can work into a rich, smooth felt. Jacob sheep are a heritage breed and haven’t been bred to eliminate or foster particular characteristics. Nonetheless, Mickey has a place in her heart for every sheep that she and John own. Continue reading