sock porn for knitting voyeurs.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

fleece intentions

I keep collecting fleeces and with each passing one I try and figure on what I'll be doing with them project and prep-wise (probably will change, but fun to plan for!)

This one arrived last week, a variegated white/silver/brown Polwarth from NZ via Treenway Silks...


I have to admit, I'm not in love. Not for any rational reason-- I've washed up samples that are silky soft and check out the length of these staples...


You know me, size queen.

It's a combination of things-- one being I know I can't reliably blend a variegated fleece on the combs (I could, but it would mean combing it all and then blending and goodness patience is not one of my strong suits.) Another would be the cleanliness of the fleece.

I'm spoiled. I know :) I seek out super clean, coated fleeces since I wash here at home and anything washed off goes down my sink-- so I try to keep the dirt down the drain to a minimum. The fleece overall is very clean, but its tips are gunky and opening them up means more dirt inside.


It's really not that bad, but I know that unless I open each caked tip by hand before washing, the dirt inside will still be trapped after I wash (water won't magically open up caked tips full of dirt). Even though I comb and those monsters will easily open up and let fall the dirt of war, it'll make a NZ sandy mess all over my floor and... again, spoiled. I could comb outside like a normal person I suppose :)

So I'm not sure what this fleece's future will be. Part of me is tempted to wash in large chunks then space dye it-- then comb it (or flick card and spin from the individual lock). The resulting colors would probably be amazing if my dye job were up to par... but 2# washed, dyed fleece would be a lot. Another part wants to ship the 3# off to Spinderella's and have them deal with the washing and blending-- I know that I'd get back a beautiful, oatmeally-colored roving of wonderfulness. For now? Packed back into the closet!

Since I was going over the fleece for pics and maybe for mailing, I pulled off a few samples that may be interesting to yall.

Second cuts:

(above and below the staple)


These happen when the shearer goes over the same spot on the sheep in more than one pass-- sometimes you'll find little short-short bits of staples (1st pic) and sometimes you'll find a staple shorn in half or less (2nd pic). It's a hard job, shearing... and I don't think I have seen a fleece with NO second cuts (these were the few I found in this one). Left in when carding they'll turn into little neps in your batts, left in combing they'd get combed out but there's no reason not to pull them when you see them.

Variation across a fleece:


The staple lengths can vary across a fleece, but the crimp can as well. Here, it's fun to note the whiter portions have a bolder/stronger crimp (less crimps per inch) than the brown portions which have a finer crimp (more crimps per inch). Also, more finely crimped fleeces generally grow at a slower rate than a less crimped fleece-- here the stronger crimped staples are longer across the fleece. A Fine Fleece had a really interesting tip-- not only for spinning to the crimp, but using the crimp to determine the size needle you should be using for the fiber you're spinning into yarn (by laying a needle in the crimp itself!)

I love that book.

Anyways, a closer look at fine vs bold/deep/strong crimp in a lock:


When I say 'fine' here, it's not the fineness of the fiber (micron diameter, fine wool like merino etc.) but how many crimps there are per inch. You can see that the darker staple has more crimps per inch and the whiter staple has fewer-- fine vs strong *for this fleece and breed.* A finely crimped Romney may have as many crimps per inch as the stronger crimp of this Polwarth.

I've seen lots of online sellers of wool take the time to describe the type of crimp in the fleece they're selling and how even that crimp is across the fleece; here you can see a fleece that has a variation across the fleece (but not the staples themselves).

Now, for an even across the entirety, so clean let's have a picnic or a bearskin romp on it Polwarth (also from Treenway Silks!)...



Random staples, slight variation in color (some are a bit silvery, some are a warmer/cooler brown) but overall very even in length, color and crimp:


Intention? No question-- next in line for washing up here at home and eventually handcombing.

As for a fleece with an actual project...

raw merino x from mmfwool/Merry Meadows Farm (only 18 oz)

washed in lock formation

To be used with the black-black corriexrambo for this...

50th anniversary Wool Gathering sweater (WG #79)from Schoolhouse Press

I'll blend my own two shade of grey from the black and white-- this small amount of blending I don't mind and is actually pretty fun.

One more, not a fleece anymore...

3# of 65/35 merino-yak down, pindrafted by Fibers 4 Ewe

Remember I had taken the shorter staples of the brown merino and sent it away with a pound of yak down for blending/carding into pindrafted roving? It just came back and is really, really great.


I've been spinning for a bulky weight yarn...


I think a merino/yak o w l s converted into a cardi would be awesome. Maybe would have enough leftover for an Estes Vest, too.


And if you're still in the mood and have eight minutes-- check out this Serbian vid on wool processing and spinning. Rad :)

get well soon!


Jane said...

I am drooling on my computer looking at all the beautiful fleece! Of course, I don't have room for more fleece myself but one can always be a fiber voyeur. Beautiful stuff:-)

Tikabelle said...

Bearskin romp? I caught that, you naughty thing. :P And also I HEART that sweater. Thanks for the link! I'm totally making one for me, and for a future kiddo in my life.

Stacey said...

wow. that is a LOT of fleece! It is amazing how different it all is....funny - a friend of a friend owns fiber4ewe!!!! It's right near me!!!

adrienne said...

Wow! Just wow. Can't wait to see Owls knit up in handspun, I'm in love with that sweater!

Jessica said...

I love looking at all your fleece adventures! The black and white is going to be marvelous.

insaknitty said...

man, I can't believe how much fleece you have! if I had all that fleece, I'd arrange it in one giant pile and then swim in it. of course, I don't spin, so I'd have no other choice.

Angie said...

I am not a spinner and have little desire to do so, but this post is LUSCIOUS! It does tempt me to the "dark side".

Anonymous said...

What an informative post--and your fleeces are lovely. I look forward to seeing what you'll do with them! Dee

~Tonia~ said...

Yummm look at all that fleece. If you don't want to deal with the fleece let me know and I might take it off your hands. ;)

Walden said...

I so cannot wait until I get to work a project from fleece to the end. I love seeing your post about working fleeces.

KnitWit said...

Lovely fleece. =)

I nominated you for a Kreativ Blogger award! Check it out on my blog. =)

Sarah said...


You need to change your blog name to Fleece Pron.

Want more fleece? My covered sheepies are getting shorn later this year...hee.

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