Everyone, meet Eshme. She’s a light grey Shetland sheep, raised in Ontario at the hobby farm of a lady I know through the SCA, and now her year’s fleece-growth is mine!
I’ve been keeping this a secret for a few weeks now, and I just picked her up on Saturday*. I’m incredibly excited to have a fleece of my own to play with, but also horribly nervous I’m going to muck up this lovely wool!
Ah well, I’m nothing if not enthusiastic, and have jumped right in to this project just as I have with my spindlemaking. On Sunday I sorted the fleece, using a technique that would probably horrify real wool sorters everywhere. I took out as many articles & library-book chapters on fleece preparation as I could, assimilated their advice, and began pulling the thing apart!
First out was a charming smoke-grey patch on one of her shoulders (I’m hoping to preserve it as the most destinctive colour varation, spinning it up separately, and then make something stranded/Fair Isle-y with the smoke-grey and the natural cream/grey/white). Then I divided the rest of it into my “scientific” categories: ‘Head Wool’, ‘Shoulders’ (the best, apparently), ‘Spine’, ‘Upper Sides’, ‘Bum’, and ‘Edges’. These were re-rolled up and packaged into whatever I could find.
It washed up pretty well, though, in my certainly inexpert opinion! Far, far whiter than I’d have thought, though there are other bits with more-grey strands throughout, and the white is actually more of an off-white or very light grey. But look at that lock formation, those tiny crimps!
Anyone with advice, tips, or tricks on the best way to wash/prepare the finest parts of this fleece for quality spinning, please comment/email me with your words of wisdom!
Likewise, anyone with a line of cheap/accessble hand-carders or Viking combs, well, remember what I said about jumping right in? Yeah, I kind-of don’t have any fibre prep tools, and am mostly broke… help?
*Funny side-note: at the event on Saturday one of the tourney fighters asked me, “So, were you at the Indigo last night?” — turns out he works for the publisher, and was there, all suited up and looking businessy! Small world, eh?