Friday, September 25, 2015

Fleece Project Milestone

Recap: Way back in July 2012, a co-worker gave me four fleeces from his pet sheep.  Much washing was done, a little carding and characterization, and then, with me slightly burnt out from all the prep work, the fleece went into hibernation.

lastly, the reddish brown fleece

Then, this past January, I pulled out some of each fleece, and started carding.  Well, picking the fleece (flicking with a dog brush, removing more vegetable matter, fluffing) and THEN carding.

Washed fleece

An improved carder setup

Batts, batts, batts

I ended up with a stack of batts, which I turned into fauxlags, because I wanted to learn how to spin longdraw.

Then I spent some time with Jacey Bogg's Craftsy Class on drafting techniques.  I was spinning up some laceweight, and it greatly improved my technique and speed.

Also had a new spinning wheel, so I figured I'd use this to get used to it as well - direct drive vs drive band, and a few other differences.

Started with the gray wool.  It drafted very smoothly, and I thought I had it all figured out.

Spinning longdraw!

Moved onto the black wool, where I learned that I didn't have it all figured out.  My fiber prep was also not as thorough as it might have been - lots of short bits left in, and it could have used another pass through the drum carder.  But I persevered, and ended up with yarn.  This fiber turned out to be a bit more fun, because at times it was like drafting chewing gum, and I could easily double draft out the slubs.  Lots of lanolin still in this fleece.

Finally, the moorit wool.  It had been a real pain to pick before carding, because it was slightly felted at the sheared end.

By now, the spinning wheel and I were getting along very well, and the actual spinning moved right along.

As I mentioned before, there was still a lot of lanolin present, and I really wanted it gone.  After much investigation on Ravelry, I ordered a bottle of Unicorn Power Scour, and the yarn got its finishing bath in that, with a hot water rinse/soak afterward.

Final wash/scour

Glamour shot

Finished skeins

I am happy with the end result.  This is the squishiest yarn I have ever spun.

Learnings: fiber prep, fiber prep, fiber prep.
Next tool: a wool picker, although I'll have to give the fleece another scour before I use it.
Future ideas:  I've got some brightly colored silk, and commercially dyed fleece to blend it to make the yarn more interesting.

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