Stephany Wilkes is a sheep shearer certified by the University of California Hopland Research and Extension Center, a wool classer certified by the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), and the President of the Northern California Fibershed Cooperative. Her writing has appeared in The Billfold, The Ag Mag, Hobby Farms, Midwestern Gothic, and other publications. Stephany speaks about sheep and wool terroir at numerous yarn shops, fiber festivals, guild meetings, schools, and events. She lives (somewhat begrudgingly) in San Francisco, where she dreams of a dog, a truck, and a horse, in that order.
Explore some of the work, people, and products described in Stephany’s book at:
The Beginnings of West By Midwest
West by Midwest is the name of my business, is a double entendre (my husband is from the West and I’m from the Midwest, so together we’re this), and tells part of my story. I migrated from Detroit to San Francisco by way of a six-year stop in Chicago.
I started shearing sheep in 2013 because I had urban hubris in spades, and heard there was a shortage of sheep shearers. It was true. The smaller the flock, the harder it is to get a shearer to come out. In my early days, I couldn’t shear many sheep anyway, so that worked just fine for me. Through referrals, my little side gig grew over the course of the next two years (three shearing seasons), and in mid 2015 I ditched my day job to shear more. I also trim hooves and horns, assist with lambing, and grade, sort and skirt wool, both for commercial sale and for textile product design purposes with fiber businesses. I will do all of these things for as long as my body permits.
I love sheep, other shearers, and my customers, all of whom are critical to the establishment of a truly regenerative, sustainable textile industry and to soil preservation.