Monday, April 13, 2009

Help, the wool, it is taking over!

It all began with a phone call. I gave a talk when Secret Language of Knitters came out, and someone in the audience said her daughter threw out sheep fleece because she didn't know what to do with it. When I reacted in horror, the listener took my card and said she would pass on the info. Almost two years later I got a call saying if I could get to the farm in question, I could pick up some wool. So off we went!

This is what we came home with...



Yes sir, yes sir, FIVE bags full. Suffolk wool for those of you who are keeping score at home.

While I spin, I had never actually processed a whole sheep fleece and wasn't entirely sure what I was doing, so I began with a large handful and the kitchen sink.
These fleeces aren't particularly neat or clean and they have a very long staple length (6" plus!) So it has taken many many tubs of water to get them reasonably clean. After they are washed they sit in the sun for a while, but during a damp weekend I plonked a bunch on top of the heater so it would dry...
Then I picked through the dry fleece one more time - getting rid of whatever nasty bits I can lay my hands on. We wind up with a giant pile of puffiness - thusly...

Since a lot of this was two year growth I have to assume that yellow stripe ain't coming out for nothing. I thought it was lanolin but it isn't greasy feeling at all anymore, so now I don't really know what it is. It will add character to the final product though, so I am not stressing about it.

No matter how much fleece I pull out of the garbage bags, they don't seem to be getting any emptier. This could be a problem...

I was going to send the scoured fleece out to be carded, but the staple length is too long for the company I wanted to use. Now on the hunt for a drum carder to rent or borrow.

Next I need to learn how to dye some of this stuff. I have done Koolaid and frosting dyes with LL, and I have some Jacquard dyes lying around, but I have never dyed fleece so I don't know how to do it. Dye it now or after it is carded? Or even after it's yarn? Input welcome...

2 comments:

the_lazymilliner said...

Mary Beth, die now and take it with you. This is your forever project.

The other Mary Beth

spinneret said...

for the love of god Bernice, get thee to a processing mill. post haste.