Wednesday, April 22, 2009

OMG! A sheep went 'splody on my porch!

Jacobs Fleece
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
Okay, not exactly, but it sure does look like it.

Spring is here and not only do we have thousands of adorable lambs running around in all the big grass fields, but apparently it is also time to shear off the fluffy coats of all the older sheep so they don't slow broil over the course of the summer.

What's amusing about this is that I've gotten several offers of "free fleece". I'm told this is a dangerous thing. You really don't know what you're getting into. The sheep may not be a breed that's meant to be shorn for its fleece (it may be intended for other sorts of consumption... leg of lamb, anyone?). It's likely to be very dirty, and there are hundreds of other things that could be "wrong" with it, or so I've been informed my more experienced fiber artists.

If I were a discerning spinner, no doubt I would want to go to a show and go through the various fleeces and pick the very best one, buy it, and toodle home to fleecy goodness of my own design. However, since I am not a) experienced or b) discerning at this point, the major point of "free" is awfully hard to pass over. I figure if it's truly an awful fleece then we're planning on a new vegetable garden this year and I hear it's fantastic mulch.

This particular 'splody fleece on my porch is "Jacob" fleece. It's a fascinating breed of sheep. I got two of them (fleeces, not sheep) from a woman at my gym. She's noticed my knitting and spinning before (because I am not shy about sharing my projects about the locker room and in fact a couple of people "follow" what I'm working on. It's quite gratifying). So I'm very happy to have received this kind gift. However, one of those small "unfortunate" things did happen in that the sheep were sheared in their stall and the fleece dropped right in the straw. Oh, yay. She did offer to have them shorn on top of a tarp next year. But this time I spent the afternoon pulling the two fleeces apart to separate the two colors of wool, and doing my best to pick all the straw out of them. The upside of this activity is I got a really good up-close look at the fiber.
Jacobs leftovers
I was able to pull out the shorter cut parts and anything that still had too much dirt (or other matter) in it as well as the places that had felted on their own from the elements. What's left is really beautiful, and I have a 5-gallon bucket packed with prime mulch material.

Unknown Wool Fleece
I also was gifted a huge fleece that looks buttery yellow on first examination. I wiggled a little lock out of this monster bag (displayed here with some affection by my darling Yarn Angel) and submerged it in the hottest water my tap produces and a little Dawn detergent.
Unknown fleece - cleaned
I wasn't particularly surprised (but I was extremely pleased) to see every last bit of that yellow mist away into the water leaving behind a pearly white lock. This stuff is gorgeous!

I'm going to take my fleece(s) up to Canby to a mill and see what they can do with it for me. I think there's plenty in the big bag to make at least one sweater, if not two. And the Jacob fleeces are going to be wonderful to play with!


Geek Knitter said...

Tell me, why do I feel so proud of that wee lock?

Looking forward to watching this.

The Bon said...

The Jacob will be good for making rugs, or a coat. Very very warm and strong but also kind of harsh against bare skin. Also good for felting. The other fleece looks lovely, maybe a romney with a staple like that? They're pretty common in this area too.