Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wool in the Raw - Part 1

Welcome to my first installment of a many-part series. How many? I have no idea! What I do know is that I have five two-ounce samples of different fine wools as a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law, and another pound of Merino-cross wool that is simply too delightful for words.

What this means is that I need to learn how to process wool.

We start, in this case, with a rather unassuming package. It's about the size of a loaded Fourth-of-July bratwurst in a bun. This little plastic bag is packed quite densely with a sample of California Varigated Mutant fleece, otherwise known as CVM. Long story short on CVM is that it is really, wonderfully soft, and... it's not white. But it's worth reading up on the history of the breed.

CVM combing experiment
CVM combing experiment
On one of the first sunny days I took the sample outside and settled into a chair out in the warm, bright rays and started to explore. Once out of the package, the compact bundle of fleece begins to expand. It poofs up a little just on extraction, but as I turned it over to try and unfold it out flat, it ballooned all over. You can see the original bag tucked under the ever-expanding mass.

CVM combing experiment
Once spread out, I pulled it back into my lap on top of a white towel and began to carefully tug the locks out and line them up. This involves finding an obvious end, grabbing it firmly, and then putting your hand on the fleece so you can pull and extract the single lock without unduly disturbing everything else. I pulled from the butt end, because the tips were not clearly defined. Because this is unwashed (but relatively clean) there was still plenty of lanolin in it, and the smell permeated everything. It also got my hands all warm and waxy. When I was done they were quite soft.

CVM combing experiment
When complete, I had a huge pile of neat locks, and a tiny little jumble of fibers that refused to be defined as anything other than a pile of mess. I figured I'd wash the poof up to play, and figure out exactly how to deal with the locks, next.

Since the sun was fading and the kids wanted to play, I packed up my locks carefully in the towel and put the whole thing away for the next time I could devote an hour or so figuring out what to do.


Araignee said...

I want to just lie down and take a nap in that stuff. It's seriously gorgeous.

TinkerTots said...

It really is beautiful, and I don't know much about fleece (yet). I can't wait to break into the rest of the samples, too.