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.
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).
Sing a Song of Sixpence shawl – I have just started the 6th stripe. The last increase row was just before the aqua stripe started. I have 10 stripes to go. I’m very pleased with it even if it feels like there are a million stitches. It’s folded in half for the picture. It’s actually a full circle. Hand spun and hand dyed CVM wool.
Polwarth fleece – This is 1 pound and I paid $22.90 including shipping from Raw Fiber Arts Co on Etsy. It’s got little bits of vm throughout but that’s not a big deal to me. It’s actually quite clean compared to some fleeces I’ve dealt with. I expect it’ll wash up to a bright white. I was quite impressed that it was a full chunk of fleece and not a jumbled up mess. It was easy to pull the locks and the staple length is mostly quite long. It is so so soft and doesn’t have a lot of lanolin.
It arrived in today’s mail and I swear, all I was planning to do was take it out back, spread it out and take pics and then bag it back up. I’m busy and/or it will be raining for the next few days and I can’t wash until Monday. Once I got my hands in it, I was doomed. I spent the next couple of hours pulling the locks and bagging them up for scouring. And I loved every second of it. Well, at least it’s all ready for Monday.
In other fleece news, I’ve made an appointment at a new sheep farm for this Saturday. This one has Cormo, BFL, Shetland and Corriedale. I’m not sure what I’ll be getting. I’d love to try all of them but her prices run much higher than the other farm (actually the new place has more normal prices. The other place was super cheap.) She’s willing to sell partial fleeces so maybe I’ll get a few pounds of several. I won’t know until I see what she has and get my hands into them.
Every year, when I’m sitting out in the yard for days pulling the locks from a dirty, unwashed fleece I think of this fleece as a reminder of why I’m out there.
I got this fleece for my second year of raw fleeces. It was gorgeous. Ever so soft and a lovely pale grey to cream and huge. Quite a lot of VM and debris. My shepherdess told me that Violette had been sick the previous winter and she wasn’t coated because of that. That was fine. I don’t mind dealing with VM. I pulled it into chunks, stuffed them in mesh bags and scoured. And that was my big mistake.
I didn’t have enough experience at the time to know that sickness often causes a break in the wool. Or that pulling the locks lets a lot of the VM fall out. Or that this fleece was extra heavy on the lanolin (honestly, if my shepherdess didn’t insist that this was Corriedale, I’d have thought it was Merino because it’s softer than the Merino fleece I got last year and had just as much lanolin).
After scouring, this fleece sat for while. I had other fleeces I wanted to deal with first. When I finally got back to it, I started pulling the locks. That’s when I discovered the first problem. The but ends are matted. They can be pulled apart and then brushed out. It’s hard to tell now but I’m pretty sure there was a break 1/4 inch from the butt end. If I had pulled the locks before scouring I could have pulled off that 1/4 inch and saved myself tons of work now.
The next problem I noticed was that there was still a lot of lanolin. So I needed to re-scour. I decided to dye and scour at the same time, which worked but in the end I’ll have to overdye the spun yarn to even out the dye job.
This brings me to where I am now. 2 years later and I’m still dealing with this fleece. I have to pull apart the butt ends and flick/brush them and usually the tip ends as well to get out VM. I do this to each and every lock. Then load up my hackle and comb. It takes about 30 locks to load the hackle and 30-45 minutes to make one small nest. Flicking/brushing is quite a strain on my body so I can only do 2-3 nests a day. Which means that this fleece will take me a long time to process. I still have about 1/3 to re-scour (I’m waiting until the weather warms so I can do it outside where I can do more at one time and I won’t dye it.)
If I’d just taken the time to pull the locks and scour properly (or had the knowledge that I should do this) I wouldn’t have to work so hard on it now. Some may ask why I’m going to all this work. The sheep grow more. It’s because this fleece is so nice, once all the work is done. I’ve spun a few skeins and it’s gorgeous yarn and so very soft.
It was a productive month of spinning, despite the sewing distraction.
5 skeins of fingering weight from Patrick the CVM 2016 for a total of 1052 yards.
A 209 yard skein of fingering weight CVM. I keep seeing skeins spun from those gorgeous dyed commercial braids. Part of the reason I got into raw fleece is because I can’t afford those braids. I tried an experiment to see if I could dye hand combed top without felting it. I succeeded but I don’t actually like how it looks knit up so I won’t be doing it again. Turns out I like the yarn in the skein far more than the yarn when knit.
5 skeins of bulky weight CVM. It’s still a bit damp so I’ve not measured it yet. This finishes Patrick the CVM, aside from a pillowcase stuffed full of combing waste. Someday I may card that to make lumpy bumpy yarn. I’m a bit tempted to sew the bag closed and use it as a pillow as it’s very soft and comfy. Eeyore the cat likes to sleep on it.
An unmeasured skein of Hampshire for weaving. It’s about sport weight. This was spindle spun.
I am very pleased with what I accomplished. Patrick the CVM is done and off my mind. Now it’s on to Violette the Corriedale’s super delicate but soft fleece. I have several ziplocs of dyed locks to comb which will take me awhile. I can only do 2-3 nests a day because I have to flick the locks before combing. My body can only take so much of that before things start hurting. I’ll do a post in the future showing the issues and process of this fleece. Many would toss it as not worth the effort but it is such soft wool and spins like a dream that I’m willing to put in the work.
I’ve been thinking about picking up my weaving again after 6 months or so. I have a Harrisville Easy Weaver that I picked up at an estate sale early last year. I’ve woven a few things, mostly using acrylic, both reclaimed and commercial. Just practicing. I’m planning on making the fabrics into pet mats to donate to the local humane society.
But I’d really like to use some handspun on it. My first fleece, before I knew any better, was a free Hampshire, badly shorn and vm filled. But I actually like it. It’s an easy fiber to process and spin. It’s coarse, not to be worn near the skin, so I won’t knit with it. But it’ll be good for weaving.
I have a few skeins done, all spindle spun, but I’ll need lots more to weave with.
Last year I dyed up the remaining fleece (which was most of it) in a variety of colors. I’m combing each color into little nests. I was planning on spinning them on my wheel but honestly, that’s always in use with my nicer fleeces. I haven’t spindle spun much lately and this was really nice and easy on the spindle. So I decided to spindle spin the rest and get back into the habit of spinning whenever and wherever I have a few minutes, for example, while making supper or waiting for something or watching tv or when we have fires in the backyard (when it warms up).
So I need to finish the fabric that’s on the loom and get spinning. And maybe do some calculations to see how big of a piece I could weave with the leftovers from 2015’s Patrick the CVM fleece. It’s already spun and dyed and I knit a shawl from it but there’s not enough left for another shawl.
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
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.
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.
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.
Comb and spin the Hawaiian Merino from 2016. I’ve got some of it combed and I’ve spun some of the waste.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.