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Fleece on Earth

December 22, 2004

I’m done, I’m done! It’s taken me since September to do it, but my therapy lately has been finishing the processing and spinning of a Dorset fleece that I bought at a spinning guild auction last year. She was one filthy girl at the outset, and I wasn’t even sure if she’d be worth much of anything. I think the fact that she was so filthy kept a lot of people from bidding on her, and I walked away with her for for a mere $10. Here she is after *three* scourings:

We’ve been having a discussion about combing over at FiberTraditions, and while I’ve been in big combing mode lately, I thought that I’d like to hand card this fleece. Here we are, loaded up and ready to go:

From filthy to fluffy in just a few passes:

I dragged my bag of fleece around with me for a while, carding whenever I had the chance and stacking the rolags into a paper sack. I had to use a towel to catch all the dirt that fell out, so it was easier when then the weather was still nice and I could do it outside.

On to the spinning! I decided on a three ply yarn, and here are three bobbins, ready to go:

All spun up and time to ply. I didn’t think to get a picture of it, but I’ve been using a spice cap (allspice – yum!) as a plying disc. It takes some getting used to, but it really does help to keep the plies even. Here are two hanks after plying:

The skein on the left is just off the niddy noddy and unwashed. You can see how grimy and grey it still is. Even after the scouring and carding, the wool can hang onto an amazing amount of dirt. The skein on the right has had a nice bath in very hot water and Dawn detergent. It’s hard to believe they even came off the same sheep! The skeins washed up to such a beautiful, creamy white, that I’m going to leave them undyed and knit as is. I’m thinking a gansey at this point – thoughts, anyone?

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as putting the last skein from a fleece into the bath. I was so pleased at how this turned out. It’s a lofty yarn with nice body and so much softer than I thought it would be. Fleece on earth, everyone.

  1. December 22, 2004 1:59 pm

    Wow, what a difference. Spinning is so cool. It’s on my evergrowing someday list of things to learn.

  2. Katie permalink
    December 22, 2004 2:08 pm

    I can’t believe how much cleaner the skeins came after washing; would have never guessed that was possible. I think “gansey” is a terrific idea! Thanks for sharing, Sam.

  3. vanessa permalink
    December 22, 2004 4:18 pm

    gansey, yes! can’t wait to see it in person in feb!

  4. December 22, 2004 6:21 pm

    It looks great! It’s like magic how this stuff works.

  5. December 23, 2004 8:48 am

    What a great walk-through of a huge project. The yarn is lovely, you should be proud.

  6. Sam permalink
    December 23, 2004 10:54 am

    Thanks for the nice comments, all. 🙂 Paul Gallico had that wonderful book about ordinary magic, and I think this fits in that category nicely. I never get over the thrill of pulling it off the niddy noddy and giving it a dunk to see what will happen!

  7. December 24, 2004 7:21 am

    Could you tell us more about “I’ve been using a spice cap (allspice – yum!) as a plying disc.”
    I am a new spinner and have never heard of a plying disc. If you can – can you point me to some instructions? (I googled and turned up with nothing).

  8. sam permalink
    December 24, 2004 5:21 pm

    Hi, Susan. I’m trying to remember where I read the tip. I think it was in “Spinning Designer Yarns,” by Diane Varney. Anyway, you just take one of those plastic liner caps with the six holes from an empty spice bottle. You thread the individual plies through the holes in the cap, attach your plies to your leader thread by whatever means you prefer, and start plying. Clear as mud? Gah. I’ll put up some pictures later on to clarify.

  9. December 28, 2004 2:39 pm

    I really liked the transformation from fleece to spun yarn. I’m a new spinner and totally appreciate all the info I’ve been finding on blogs.

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