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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Jacob fleece, raw to yarn

Lots of pics today :)

I was fortunate enough to "meet" Liese of Little Meadows Farm thru Ravelry-- she raises Jacob sheep (as well as Corriedales and Dorsets, and crosses), and from her farm I bought a freshly shorn Jacob fleece straight off the back of a wether named Jester.

Jacob sheep have black/brown and white coloring, a neat thing for me since I immediately thought I would separate the color from the white fleece straight away for a naturally-colored stranded knitting project... mittens from Selbuvotter, or something in that vein-- a fleece to finished object from one sheep.

raw dark brown black Jacob fiber

raw white Jacob fiber

The Jacob was so much less greasy than other raw wool I've had my hands on, and this fleece in particular was really clean and well skirted (the entirety was only 2 lbs raw)... so I tried scouring in a sink instead of the washing machine, using mesh bags. I tried a few different ways-- inspired by Spinning Spider Jenny's post on scouring to maintain lock formation I set out a basket and cut tuille and started layering locks between the tuille...



...tying the packaged wool together and placing them inside the mesh bags for scouring. I did a few variations of this, layering locks between tuille and not, and eventually moving away from using the basket and ties and just layering them inside the mesh bags. I found I didn't really need the tuille but it did help in giving the mesh bags some "shape"...

without tuille layers

with tuille layers

The shape helped the fleece from shifting around in the bags when I was scouring, as well as when removing the locks from the bags for laying out to dry.

variegated Jacob locks drying

I could just pull out the tuille and turn it over, leaving a layer of locks already spread out that just needed a little more time to dry. The tuille also didn't take much longer when loading the fleece straight into the bags... and I bought 5 yards of it, way too much but may as well use it, eh? :)

Even though I was able to separate much of the white from the colored fleece prior to scouring, I had lots of sections that were variegated and would blend into a pretty grey...

scoured variegated Jacob locks

I took a few ounces of white and black/brown/grey Jacob and set them to dye-- the best part?

variegated Jacob locks dyed w. acid dyes

...some of the brown tips on the black portions turned green in the dyebath :) This lot I carded the morning before the Color Fiber Festival and I spun in the downtime between my classes, plied up at home into this pretty skein.

2-ply handspun heavy worsted Jacob yarn

I probably should have chosen some more loud colors, this is really quite close to the natural brown/black of the Jacob :)

scoured black brown Jacob fiber

No worries, plenty left to play with dyeing later.

The resulting yarn is sturdy but soft, totally useable for a scarf against the back of my neck... though it feels like it would be a really great sweater yarn, squishy and full of life. (Yes Virginia, I am head over heels haunted by A Fine Fleece.) I spun the singles for this skein woolen-- but the final yarn isn't really fuzzy like yarns usually are for me when I spin merino or more short stapled wools. I don't have enough fiber for a sweater, and am already planning one out of *another* fleece I'm prepping at home, but I'd definitely think about this fiber for one if I ever grew up and into big projects like sweaters :)

Liese offers an "adopt a sheep" program thru her farm where you can "adopt" a sheep for a year and by the next shearing the fleece is reserved for you. I can say that the fleeces are really well skirted and fun to work with... so much that I adopted one of Little Meadow Farms' new lambs in my son's name for next year.

jacob/dorset lamb
(pic by Little Meadows Farm)

She was unnamed when we adopted her, and Liese asked if he'd like to give her a name... "Rosie!"

(I am such a sucker and immediately welled up.)

In addition to Jester's fleece, I also bought several bars of handmade soap from Liese-- the pine tar? REALLY WORKS for me. I get a heat rash on the top of my hand (nerves, since childhood) but washing my hands with the soap kills the itch and is so much more appealing than the steroid cream I usually resort to. I'm using it in the shower-- it has a definite smell, not bad but not flowers :) Clean, but way different than anything else. I really dig it, along with eveything (from wool to service) I received from Little Meadows Farm.

...back to carding! :) Til then!


Vtknitboy said...

ohh! lovely job on the fleece! i think the term scouring is much too harsh for really just soaking and rinsing in still water. the process you used is how i do a lot of merino fleeces, ala margaret stove's technique for merino fiber. i was surprised that you dyed the fleece, the natural colors are so pretty! did you do some sample spinning, ie., thinner yarn? looks lovely!

Kristine said...


lexa said...

Wonderful! How neat to adopt a little lamb. :)

Rachel said...

Lovely fleece! Your posts are always so tempting.

Janis said...

What an awesome opportunity! I had the chance to go to a local Jacob farm and I've been thinking about buying a fleece in the future. As is, I have some medium weight yarn from their sheep sitting in my stash.

Stasia said...

Love the tulle concept, will have to try that - thanks! Rosie is a great name and an adorable lamb. Jester looks so much like our 'Zola!! I wonder if they have the same lines...

This being the first year of having our own Jacob fleeces, I, too, am enjoying the lack of lanolin and the "sproinginess" of the fibers. (And they're such FUN sheep - great outgoing and inquisitive personalities! Like goats or dogs!)

You did a great job on the dyeing.

Thanks for your blog!

Anonymous said...

Small world, you know? Liese is a member of my local spinning guild and I've met her on a number of occasions! A while back we also took our first spindle spinning class together. She's having a small "fiber day" at her farm in a couple weeks and I wish I could go.

It's so cool to see your fleece, which comes from my neck of the woods, all the way through to yarn. So, so cool.

Stacey said...

That is some beautiful fleece. The tuele is a great idea!!

kimchi said...

that lamb is soooo sweet!!! and i can't wait to see how your other dyeing adventures turn out! :o) ek.

hillary said...

That little lamb is so cute. I've never bought a fleece but, now that I have a carder maybe. you make it look like such fun.

Heather said...

i have a friend with jacobs. they are so fun!
i love the way your fiber turned out!

Sherry W said...

I just emailed then to adopt a sheep!

Sarah said...

Love it! These are my favorite kinds of blog posts :).

Gosh Jacob lambs are so cute too. I mean, I think mine are the cutest...but.

Knit - R - Done said...

Amazing work. I love seeing the process.

Anonymous said...

You really peeked my interest in Little Meadow Farms. I poked around their website for a while, and ended up adopting a sheep too.

Unknown said...

What a great post - stolen by the lamb. Also really liked the picture of the locks lined up to dry.

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