Thursday, May 30, 2013

New Fleece Prep

I received a package in the mail yesterday from Ferris Farms in Arthur, ON. It contained a fleece I purchased sight unseen. I was anxious to open it, as I love getting packages, but I didn't know what to expect.
As I opened the box and pulled out the bag there was that now familiar smell of sheep fleece; to a spinner that's not a bad smell. I laid it out on my large work table out in the barn and loads of green feed kept coming out all over the table - wee itty bitty pieces.  The dung tags had been removed and the strip down the back had mostly been removed though some was still there.

I pulled out a staple, which was about 4" in length, gave it a snap by my ear and it proved to be sound. The crimp in the staple is 7-8 crimps per inch. Pulled out a few more from different areas and all proved to be strong.
The tips on the fleece are good, though I don't think it will wash to a bright white, but that's okay, I don't mind some creamy colour.

I started sorting the fleece into piles of different qualities. The cleanest and best; wavy, but still very good that I will prepare and spin worsted; shorter for carding; and quite seedy, but with nice crimp. I had two large stacks of very nice fleece.

My choice for dealing with the loose feed in the fleece was to take a handful and shake the loose stuff off. I spent a pleasant afternoon doing this. What kept me going was the goal of a very nice crimpy fleece I know will be a joy to spin.

Type of fleece? It is a Dorset cross type and weighed just over 7 lbs. before I started shaking it.

I soaked it overnight in mesh bags just in cold water; took it out and spun it in my front load washer.
I then put a few large pots of hot water on the stove, added some Dawn dish detergent, added my fleece in the mesh bags. Kept the water on a low simmer for about 30 minutes. Spun in washer; rinsed in warm water; rinsed again; then soaked for 5 minutes with a little vinegar in the water. Spun it out again and then laid the sorted fleece on old window screens outside.

I have had to vigorously shake the fleece again and I am still getting a lot of stuff falling out. I think when I card this I will still have lots falling out and probably will still see more when I spin it up. Still the fleece was worth the trouble. It is a nice fine crimpy Dorset type that should make up into something very nice.

Here are the pics.
Fleece out of the bag

The vm and little second cuts.

Sorted stacks.

A few locks I just had to wash to see the 'after' state of affairs.

Cold water soak overnight

A few locks spun. Will knit a small sample. 2 ply. 9:1. Draft 1.5":1 treadle
After the scour

Some of the crimp and vm

This I will comb and spin worsted for something like a stitch patterned pair of mittens.This is not as fine

Nice crimp.

Grey with vm

Nice fine crimp. More shaking to do.
I just added a little knit sample. 2.5 mm needles.Less than 20 sts.

I am convinced it will be lovely when I am finished. I really need an ivory cardigan. But I love the fun of dyeing. Oh the difficult choices I must make...

Would I buy this again? Right now I'd say probably, but next time wouldn't it be a treat to see what a coated sheep fleece is like? Anyways, almost everything I do is a learning experience.

I should be outside tending my gardens; but instead I'm going to harvest some rhubarb and make a pie. The first one of the season is always the best!

And from the leaves I will get an oxalic acid solution to aid in some nature dyeing. More on that another time.

No comments: