Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Final Project Sample Proposal #5


The topic for my final project for the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program is a study in wool and its use in textiles. With the working title "Sheep to Shawl", I intend to research the long relationship between man and wool fiber. The first segment of this work will include the science of sheep and wool fiber as a raw material. The next section will investigate man's application of technology in the preparation of wool textiles. The third part of the work will explore wool's uses in clothing and fiber art.

Throughout the project, the history as well as the socialization of the fiber will be explored. Man is the only member of the animal kingdom that cannot rely on a thick covering of fur to maintain body heat. Early on in history, man needed to find protection from the elements. As humans became more social, they moved from wearing animal skins to finding ways to create clothing and shelter material from fibers. In time civilized societies began to create decorative attire. Indeed, wool played an important role in many advances in the history of mankind.

Some scholars describe the history of mankind as a tapestry. Indeed, if we could weave history, the fiber of choice would be wool. This renewable fiber has provided man with clothing and shelter for thousands of years. The sheep itself has been a source of food for as many years. In fact, the study of wool parallels the study of man's development.


My personal experience with wool began in the snowy winters of western Pennsylvania . Most of our winter clothing was made from wool. I can still remember the scratchy feeling of wool sweaters next to my skin. My mother always knitted my mittens out of thick worsted wool. My preferred color was always red and I can still smell the musty odor of wet wool drying on the radiators. My course of study in the MALS program has given me an opportunity to write about many of my childhood experiences; however I also have had many opportunities to do extensive research on varying topics. In GLS 592-03: Cloth and Culture, I thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing about the history and science of cotton. I plan to follow the same format that I used in that work to write about wool.

Finally, I have always enjoyed needle work. Many of the projects that I have finished have been made with wool fibers. Recently, I have begun to hook wool rugs. This type of wool craft begins with designing the project, then dyeing the wool to obtain the perfect color match and then working on the project. Rug making is a creative activity that I share with several other hookers at Poplar Grove Plantation.


I plan to divide my project into three sub-topics. I will begin by collecting research to increase my knowledge on the subject. I also hope to interview several people who practice fiber art. I hope to have an opportunity to dye wool, spin wool fiber and learn to use a lap loom. The purpose of preparing this paper is two fold. I am fulfilling my final project obligation, however; at the same time I am creating a program about wool for the Cape Fear Museum . A "Sheep to Shawl" presentation will be included in the Fall Cornucopia event.

Preliminary bibliography:

deSamarjay, Anne Marie. "Embroidered Sheepskin Coats of Central Europe. " Traditional Folk Textiles and Dress . Dubuque , Iowa : Kendall/Hunt, 1986.

Hyde, Nina. "Fabric of History Wool." National Geographic. Vol. 173, May 1988.

Landi, Sheila. The Textile Conservator's Manual. Oxford , England : Reed Educational and Professional Publishing, 1998.

Weiner, Annette B. and Jane Schneider. Cloth and the Human Experience . Washington : Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989.

Wilson, Kax. A History of Textiles . Boulder , Colorado : Westview, 1979.


Spring 2005

Week 1- Meet with project director

Continue research on science of wool

Week 2- Begin writing on subject

Week 3- Begin research on history of wool

Meet with project director if needed

Week 4 -Begin writing paper on history

Week 5- Begin research on social aspect of the fiber

Conduct interviews with wool crafters

Week 6- Begin writing paper on wool and society

Week-7 Combine all topics and ensure continuity in writing

Week-8 Submit first draft to committee

Meet with committee

Week-9 Work on revisions

Week 10- Submit second draft to committee

Meet with projector director

Week 11- Finish writing paper and submit to committee

Book room for final project defense

Prepare for defense

Week 12- Final revisions to paper

Meet with project director

Week 13- Final project defense