Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Fleecy Goodness!

Since I'm nearly done teasing apart the light gray Coopworth fleece, I decided to get out the dark gray fleece. I unrolled it on the floor to have a look at the color. There's not a speck of veggie matter in the entire fleece, hardly any dirt and not much grease either. This sheep was clearly a neat freak who avoided mud puddles. Then again, all the Hidden Valley fleeces seem to come from neat freak sheep. A photo of the dark fleece will come soon, I promise.

Now that I've gotten the dark fleece out and started playing with it, I feel the urge to actually work with one of the cream colored fleeces. I have a cream colored Coopworth also from Hidden Valley Farm, plus two fine-wool crossbreds, a long-wool of some sort and a Shetland. I found some washed Cotswold locks and some washed Romney too. I don't know how they washed the Cotswold, but the tips are still full of dirt/mud even though the lanolin has been removed. Unfortunately the dirt seems to be eating the fiber and the lock structure is somewhat compromised. I may soak the whole lot to soften up the mud and see how much of it I can wash out.

I had a look at the two Romney fleeces I got from some 4-H kids a couple of years ago. These fleeces are fairly clean and not at all greasy, but they got packed hard into the shipping box. It feels as though the compression and probably some heat (from being stored in a non-climate controlled area) has started to felt them together (or else they were washed before I bought them). The lighter of the two fleeces has some veggie matter in it (crushed leaves from hay), but that ought to fall out when the fleece is picked. The darker of the fleeces looks very clean and no second cuts.

If the weather is nice over the weekend, I may take one of the darker Shetland fleeces outside, unroll it and shake out the second cuts and veggie matter. One of them has some VM in it. The other one is clean. The less than ideal fleece is from a less experienced grower, but it's got a nice color and good length.

Speaking of less than ideal fleeces, I had purchased several Friesian fleeces via E-bay some time ago. I think there were two or three of them. Not at all well skirted and full of VM (mostly on the surface rather than worked into the fleece). I had done a cursory sorting job when I first got the fleeces and have several bags of not-so-nice wool waiting to have something done with them. I have decided that the not-so-nice wool will become mulch in the garden. Apparently wool works very well as a mulch for strawberries and for fruit trees. I will definitely be using some of the dirtier wool for mulch.

Anyway, I ought to have the rest of the first Coopworth fleece teased apart by the end of the weekend and then wash it over the following week. I had initially planned to comb it, but I might card it instead since that will go faster (once I get the drum carder, that is). Of course, I can comb it now whereas the carding would have to wait on the arrival of said drum carder which is, as yet, unpurchased.

As far as the knitting goes, I haven't done any in the past few days. I'm out of town for training for three days this week, including two nights in a hotel--always a good knitting opportunity. I'll be taking a sock and possibly the Kiri with me. I might even finish the sock, if not the Kiri. Speaking of socks, I should find the yarn for the second blue sock. Not that I need wool socks here any more. (On that note, a co-worker said she'd had to put on the air conditioning at home because it was hot. It was 73 degrees out today. I can't imagine what she's going to do in August when it's 95 degrees out and she grew up here!!!)

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