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).

WIP and Polwarth fleece


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.


Quit While You’re Ahead


Sometimes you just have to quit while you’re ahead.  I’ve been working on the Vinorina Shawl this week.  It’s been tough going.  A lot of through the back loop stitches (both knit and purl) plus some overly complicated cables.  I’ve slogged through it until last night when I finally made a mistake I couldn’t fix.  I was faced with tinking back several rows or frogging it.  Despite 400 or so stitches on the needles and more than 30 rows done, I frogged it.  And I have no intention of starting over.  I simply wasn’t enjoying the knitting and didn’t love the finished project enough to tough it out.

Sometimes the hardest part of knitting is knowing when to say enough is enough and admit that a project just isn’t working for you.

In other news, I’m in fleece limbo.  First my shepherdess had to cancel a visit and then I had to cancel the replacement visit and now I can’t get ahold of her.  I did buy a pound of Polworth on Etsy.  It hasn’t shipped yet.  I’ve also been looking into other sheep farms in the area and have a few to call.  I’m hoping to visit one or two this weekend.

More Ramblings

No fleeces yet.  Our plans fell through last weekend.  My shepherdess is difficult to get a hold of but I’m hoping to get them this weekend.  I did get the rest of the Corriedale re-scoured.  It’s looking and feeling good.


The only other things to show are more swatches.  This batch had some issues.  I had to chart and rework some of them to get them to actually work.  And some still have issues that I need to look into.  The next one on the list had 2 separate instructions in 2 different books.  The first set just did not work.  The second set looks like it should but the proof will be in the swatch.

After that one I have to transcribe/translate some more before I can knit more swatches.  I also have to figure out some way of organizing them.  I’m thinking of printing each set of instructions and putting them with the swatch into plastic sleeves in a binder.  Sort of my own custom stitch pattern book.

Random Ramblings

Life has suddenly gotten busy and a bit chaotic.

My shepherdess is shearing this Friday.  It’s a bit early due to scheduling issues with her shearer.  Honestly it’s about 2 weeks earlier than i was expecting.  Ack!  I’m not ready!  But in any case, we’re heading out on Saturday afternoon to get my fleeces.  And she mentioned that she’s got a floor loom up in her attic and wondered if I might be interested.  Of course I’m interested.  I’m just not sure if I have the room or if I can afford it.  But knowing her, she’ll just give it to me since it’s just taking up space and she has no interest in it.  It’s all in pieces too.  As for room…if it’s not too big, we’ll find room.  If she does set a price and I can’t afford it, I’ll offer to take it and sell it for her, since she’s not online.

So I planned all of that on Monday afternoon.  Monday evening we get the news that my father-in-law needs to stay with us this weekend, which is half of my chaos.  We never have anyone to stay so there’s unusual cleaning to be done (like vacuuming out the couch since that’s where he’ll sleep and washing bedding.)

It won’t interfere with going to get my fleeces but it definitely puts a twist into our lives.

I discussed what fleeces I might like with my shepherdess and she suggested a Teeswater/BFL cross.  I’ve researched it and I think she might be right.  I suspect I’m going to spend some time dipping my fingers into many different fleeces.  I’ve got a lot more knowledge and experience since my last longwool fleece and I should be better able to judge what I might like. And I’ll probably come home with more fleece than I intended.  It’s those wool fumes.

Fleeces aren’t allowed into the house until they’ve been scoured.  They live in the garage until then.  That’s my husband’s domain and while he says he doesn’t mind I always feel guilty leaving them out there for too long.  Plus I can’t play with them until I’ve scoured them.  The weather looks to be on the low end of acceptably warm enough to scour next week.  I can only hope the forecast is at least right, if not underestimating the temps a bit.  But if I do get to scour, a post next week is questionable.  When I’m scouring I spend the majority of the day outside and I’m exhausted by the time I’m done. This will last for a week to two weeks, depending on weather and amount of fleece.  I need to start with re-scouring that Corriedale from a few years ago so that will only add to the time.  Post may be scarce for a bit.

I’ve started swatching stitch patterns from those Victorian era books.  There are often pics but they are usually engravings, drawings of the knitting, and not photos.  They sort of show what things should look like but you really need a swatch to be sure.  Plus a swatch sorts out any transcribing or translation errors.  The instructions don’t use the same terminology or abbreviations that we do today which can be confusing.  One pattern had a few stitches that it said to repeat 4 times.  When I knit it the stitch count didn’t work.  It turns out that they meant, repeat those stitches 4 MORE times, for a total of 5.


So that’s 5 down and I think 5 to go and that’s only the ones I’ve transcribed and translated.  There are many more that I’m interested in.

Down the road there will be project designs with these stitch patterns

I believe I mentioned that there is also macrame in some of these old books.  I gave it a shot and I’m quite pleased.  I think I might do more and frame them to hang on the wall.


Random Ramblings

Once again I don’t have any WIPs worth showing.  I’ve been busy with a lot of things other than knitting.

First up, there was an estate sale this past weekend that had some spinning and knitting items (and a whole lot of quilting stuff).  I picked up some Elizabeth Zimmermann books and a stack of Spin Off Magazines, plus some fiber.  I think the fiber is Alpaca.  It wasn’t labeled.


It’s brown/black and I’ve started spinning some on a spindle to ply with some mystery fiber I spun back when I started spinning.  More of this will be plied with some other fiber I got at the same time that I’m still spinning on a spindle.

I kept one of the Zimmermann books but I’m selling the other two, along with some other books and magazines I no longer want.  I’m not a sweater knitter so much of Zimmermann’s books aren’t useful to me.

If you’re interested in buying any of this, here are some links:

Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann 1971

Everything else which includes Polymer Clay books, Lapidary Journal Magazines, Bead Unique Magazines, Art Jewelry Magazines, Expression Magazines.
Lately I’ve been getting tons of books from my library’s Interlibrary Loan system.  The latest batch included 6 volumes of Weldon’s Practical Needlework.  Wow, there is some amazing stuff in there and not just the knitting.  I’m quite intrigued by the Victorian era macrame.  It’s not much like the 1970’s macrame.  I’m thinking of giving some of it a try.  Anyway, the original Weldon books are public domain and I spent most of last evening trying to find them online for free.  No luck on those specifically but I found oodles of other needlework (knitting, crocheting, macrame, tatting, netting, embroidery, etc) books from the same era.
I find that I’m not very interested in knitting patterns these days.  I’m much more interesting in stitch patterns to make my own patterns.  There are plenty of stitch patterns in these old books and even some of the patterns might be interesting to make.  They’re very different from modern designs.  The only problem is deciphering the instructions.  Terms were different then and not consistent between authors (and sometimes patterns from the same author).  And the way things are printed makes if difficult as well.  Instead of each row being on a separate line, everything just runs together.  I’ll have to copy the instructions out, translating the terms to modern usage and separating the rows to make it easier to read.  It’ll be something to do when it’s too hot to knit this summer.

A FO and reclaimed yarns


No WIPs but I did finish the last of the three Jacob Shawls.  From getting the fleece to finishing this shawl took me about 2 years.  All natural colors, no dye.  Simple garter stitch shawls.  This Jacob wool is a bit coarse. I wouldn’t wear it against my skin.  The yarn is rustic and uneven but the shawls are still quite pretty.  They’d look good as decor in a rustic country style.

That’s been mostly the only thing I’ve been knitting on for the last few weeks.  I’ve been plying a lot of yarn from sweaters and I thought I’d show that off.

I had two Merino sweaters in very similar shades of plum.  I plied 2 strands from each sweater together to make a 4 ply fingering weight.  I got about 1400 yards.  I paid less than $7 total for the sweaters.

I had some leftovers from one of the plum sweaters so I plied two strands together to make about 500 yards of laceweight.

The last one is 4 strands from a silk sweater plied to make 960 yards of light fingeringweight.  Silk is tricky to ply.  Unlike wool sweaters I plied directly from the sweater pieces.  Unraveling cobweb weight silk into cakes is just asking for massive tangles.  This sweater cost $0.49.


Last is a dyeing experiment.  I was actually trying to dye yarn that only had a small amount of wool – the rest was undyeable fibers.  It failed completely leaving me with a pot of dye.  So I grabbed this yarn.  It’s sportweight (not plied) from a 62% nylon 26% angora 11% lambswool sweater (nylon dyes just like it’s a protein fiber).  I dumped it into the pot dry and it was also too much yarn for the amount of dye/water/space in the pot.  It instantly turned a pale pink (the dye in the pot is supposed to be a deep raspberry.)  That just wasn’t acceptable so I spent the next few hours experimenting.

I mixed up dye in different shades of magenta and blue and started dumping it in the pot, directly onto the fiber, stirring it around to get different areas.  After awhile I was noticing bits that were still pale pink so I started pulling the skeins out of the pot, pouring dye directly on the light spots and then dumping the skeins back into the pot.  Then it seemed like the colors were too contrasty so I pulled the skeins out of the pot and added a lot of the deep raspberry color to the pot and dumped the skins back in.  I wanted to blend the colors together more and not have them contrast with each other so hard.

I ran out of time for the day and stopped for the day.  I wasn’t sure I was done yet but I knew I could always experiment more another day.  As the yarn dried I could see more and more colors appearing.  It’s a very layered look, with colors blending and spotting and just being wild.  I think I really like it and I may not dye it anymore.  Then again I might.  I need to look at it for awhile before I make a final decision.