Tour de Fleece

Sorry for the lack of post last week.  I had the pics ready but just forgot.  I got all caught up in prepping for TdF.

I overdid it on the fiber prep last week and combined with yard work over the weekend, managed to strain my wrist.  I’ve been in a brace most of this week in the hope that I’ll be better enough by tomorrow to spin a little. So I’ve been forced to find alternate things to do as I can’t knit or spin or prep so I’ve gotten sort of lost in a computer game.

So Tour de Fleece or TdF.  It’s three weeks of spinning in conjunction with the bike race Tour de France.  I’m with team RWLU or the Raw Wool Lovers Unite group on Ravelry. We’re a very laid back group.  We set our own goals (big or small) and cheer each other on.  The only requirement is that the fiber is from raw fleece.

My theme this year is variety.  In the past I’ve worked on one fleece for most of the tour and let me tell you, that gets tedious fast.  So this year I’ve prepped bits of every fleece I have.  8 different breeds, mostly combed but two have the waste from combing carded into rollags.

So here is the lineup:


The Hampshire is spindles only and everything else is for my wheel.  If I somehow run out, there is more Cormo and Hampshire to prep.

I think I’ll start with the Shetland/Corriedale lamb.  It’ll probably be the easiest to spin.  I have no firm plans for most of this.  It will get spun at whatever thickness feels right. Probably pretty thin as that’s what I tend to spin.

Sometime today I need to change the drive band on my wheel and oil it and than I’m ready to go.  I hope to post a couple of times a week to update my progress (and get in that Polwarth prep post I forgot about last week.)


Cormo Raw Fleece


Next up is a gorgeous Cormo fleece.  This one almost 6lbs.


Some scoured locks.  Those dirty ends flick right out leaving me with lovely white fiber.

Combing in progress.  Same method as the last fleece.


The nests I have done so far.  This should be enough for 2 singles to be plied into one skein.

The rest of the fleece needs a re-scour.  There’s just a bit too much lanolin left in it.  I can comb and probably spin it now in the summer heat without too many problems but come winter, it’s going to be a hassle.  It looks like I’ll have a decent day or two next week to scour so I’ll get this bagged up over the weekend and ready to scour.

Note to self:  Cormo has more lanolin than it appears and needs 2 soapy scours before rinsing.

Corriedale/Shetland Lamb Raw Fleece

I have fleeces!!!

I’m going to introduce them one at a time as I get to work on them this month.  I finished scouring the last bit today so the rest of the month is dedicated to fiber prep for these new fleeces plus one or two older ones.  TdF is coming up fast and I’ll need a lot of fiber prepped and ready to spin.

First up is a Corriedale/Shetland cross lamb.  Just shy of 2 lbs before scouring. These pics are of the fleece and locks before scouring.


Here is an assortment of scoured locks.  Staple length is 5-6 inches.  There are a few locks with black/dark grey but most of the fleece is white to cream.

Combing in progress.  This fleece is so easy to prep.  I pull open the butt ends with my fingers.  Just sort of fluffing it a bit and getting any second cuts I may have missed.  Then I flick/brush the tips.  Next is loading the hackle and combing.  Look how fluffy it gets.  This is the longest fleece I’ve ever dealt with.  I really have to exaggerate my movements to get the comb free of the fibers before the next pass.  Last shot is pulling the fiber off of the hackle into roving.  I don’t bother with a diz.  I just draft the fiber until it’s even as I wind it onto my hand.

This fleece is a dream to prep.  Almost no VM.  The tips flick out with 2 or 3 swipes of the brush and it pulls off of the hackle easily.  I can work on this for hours at a time without aches and pains.


These are all the nests I made today.  Aren’t they pretty?  I can’t wait to see how this spins up.

I highly recommend Bleating Heart Haven in New Holstein, WI.  I’m not sure if Cindy sells online but she got a lovely little shop on her farm and it’s well worth the trip if you can do it.

She flat out gave me some roving. She also has goats (mohair) and when I mentioned I’d never spun that she pulled down some mohair/coopsworth roving. Then later after she showed me the fleeces and I’d turned down some very short shetland lamb she pulled out a bump of roving made from a similar fleece and gave that to me.  Plus she gave me an amazing deal on the 2 fleeces I bought from her.

I asked to see the sheep and she let me (insisted, actually) feed her bottle lamb. Adorable but noisy little thing and not all that hungry (it was early for supper time).

Spinning goals

As I was finishing the last Brioche swatch today, it suddenly occurred to me that I really need to get back to spinning more.  My shepherdess shears in May and while that may seem like a long time from now, last year’s experience taught me that it goes faster than I’d like.

Before shearing in May, I’d like to

  1. Finish combing and spinning Patrick the CVM from 2016.  I’m pretty close to done on the combing but there is a lot of spinning left.  That was a huge fleece.
  2. Work on scouring/dyeing Violette the Corriedale from 2015.  There isn’t much left.  It’s actually re-scouring as I didn’t get all of the lanolin out the first time.  This is also a delicate fleece so I have to be careful with it.
  3. Comb and spin Violette the Corriedale from 2015.  I’ve got a few skeins done but there is quite a bit to go.  It’s slow going to comb because it’s so delicate (the sheep was sick that winter and died the following year.)  It’s amazingly soft wool and worth the extra effort.  I’ve not touched it since getting my fleeces in 2016.

Honestly, doing number 3 is a huge long shot.  But I’d at least like to get a start on it.

Other spinning/combing to be done at some point.

  1. Comb and spin the Hawaiian Merino from 2016.  I’ve got some of it combed and I’ve spun some of the waste.
  2. Comb and spin the Hampshire that’s all dyed and ready to go.  This is easy to comb and easy to spin.  I’m spinning it rough (or at least not worrying if it’s perfect).  It’s to be used in weaving.
  3. Spin the Teeswater/Romney cross from 2014.  All dyed up.  Needs to be finger teased and spun rough and plied with thread.  It’s also for weaving.
  4. Spin some of the “kits.”  Packs I put together of carded fibers, mostly from a 2015 soft mystery fleece that I dyed.

What I want to buy this year.

  1. Patrick the CVM’s 2017 fleece.  Or maybe just half of it.  It was almost 7 lbs after scouring and probably around 12 lbs before.  Or some other fine wool if she got any new sheep.
  2. 2 or 3 lbs of a long wool.  I’m not fussy on breed or color, other than light so I can dye it.  It’s for that rough spinning for weaving like the Teeswater/Romney cross.
  3. Maybe another Hawaiian Merino.  It’s really nice once it’s cleaned up.

I have to remind myself that a little backlog is good.  One of these years I’m not going to be able to afford new fleeces and I’ll be happy to have fiber in storage to spin.

I think I’ll declare February to be the month of spinning.  Not to say I won’t knit during that month, but my focus will be more on spinning and combing.

Combing Wool Locks


First, please excuse my messy desk in the background.  Second, this is the way I do it.  It’s not the only way and possibly not the best way.  But it works for me.

This is a CVM fleece.  It wasn’t coated but is remarkably clean.  I use a hackle and a comb but you could use two combs, if you have a way to secure one down to the table.

  1. Load the locks on the hackle.  I load butt ends onto the hackle.  If the tips are gunky or there is a lot of vm I’ll flick first.
  2.  Fully loaded.  Start with less and work your way up to an amount you are comfortable with.  Mist lightly with water to keep down static.
  3. Start combing.  Keep the comb perpendicular to the hackle.  It doesn’t matter if you go from left to right or vice versa.  You could even switch.  Start near the tips, moving closer to the hackle with each pass.  You won’t get all of the locks into the comb at first.  Pull the comb towards you, making sure that all the fiber that comes away is free from the rest on the hackle and sticking straight out from the comb before making another pass.  I often use my other hand to guide the locks onto the comb and to smooth them out before making another pass.  Be very careful.  Those tines are sharp.
  4. Most of the fiber is on the comb and what’s left is short and matted bits.  Discard this waste (or save it, but I’ll get to that later.)
  5. Now put the fiber back onto the hackle.  Keeping the comb perpendicular to the hackle, bring the fiber down onto the hackle.  Just the ends at first and work your way closer.
  6. You may need to repeat steps 3-5 depending on how it looks.  It should be smooth and without tangles.  Discard the waste from the comb.
  7.  Lift the fibers up off the bottom of the hackle a little.  This allows the fibers to pull off easier.
  8. Start at one side (it doesn’t matter which) and start pulling off the fiber.  Some people use a diz.  I used to , but no longer do.
  9. Work your way back and forth across the hackle until you’ve pulled off all the fiber that you can.
  10. You’ll have a long rope of fiber.  Start wrapping this rope around your hand.  Not too tight but not too loose either.
  11. I often draft the fiber a little here and there to even it out.
  12. When it’s all wrapped around your hand, pull your hand out, leaving you with a little nest of fiber.
  13. This is my waste pile.  I’m actually saving if from this fleece since it’s fairly clean and nice.  I’ll card it and make lumpy bumpy yarn.
  14. Box of nests.

To use, simply unroll the nest.  Start spinning from the outside, the last part that was wrapped around your hand.  For me it drafts easiest from this end.

Flicking Wool Locks



I threw this together for someone on one of my Ravelry groups but I thought it would be good to share here.

This is my method of flicking locks. That’s just a dog brush (the kind that looks like a mini carder). Brush through the tip end several times until it’s all fluffy. Then do the same to the butt end. Twist the lock before you brush and hold it at the twist. It’s easier to brush against your leg but put a piece of leather or heavy cloth on your leg. Those tines are sharp. Once done, I comb but you can spin from it just as it is. Fluff it out a bit with your fingers and predraft it out a little if you want

I really only try to brush the ends, the last 1/2 inch or so, unless there is a lot of tiny vm in the lock.  Then I’ll brush all of it.  I don’t always flick.  If the tips are funky or there are second cuts, then I flick both ends.  Sometimes I’ll only flick the tips.  Even with in the same fleece I could flick both ends on one lock, just the tips on the next or not at all on another lock.  It just depends on the condition of the lock.