Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Fibery Fruits of My Labor

Yesterday was my FIRST day of official retirement - from Boeing, certainly not from the rest of the world! One of my "first day" projects was washing an eye catching silver grey Cotswold fleece I'd bought at Shepherd's Extravaganza. One of my guild "sisters" shared this fleece with me. Thanks, Darliss! So here it is all washed up and dried outside on shelf racks.

Cotswolds are one of the luster longwool types of sheep, and can weigh 200 to 300 pounds at maturity!!! Contrast that to our Shetlands at 80 to 120lb! Cotswold wool grows 8" to 10" in a year's time. Most people let their Cotswolds fleeces grow less than 12 months because they tend to get very dirty and felted if they go too long on the sheep. This fleece had 6 months growth. The wool is very "strong" and tends to be coarser (microns in the 40's) than ideal for next to the skin wearing. It has this back and forth wave character to the staple, with a twist at the tip. Some people use the fleece for Santa beards, and it has been called "Poor Man's Mohair".
Locks up close. You can see that the "grey" is really a mix of white and grey fibers.
Without having a specific project in mind, I decided to sort the locks from light to dark, and will spin them so that I'll have skeins that also blend from light to dark. I've done this on a smaller scale and it is very unique. Below is the sorted fleece. It almost looks like it'll get up and start baaaa'ing. I wonder which is the head end??? ;-)I also finished the Orange Romney potholder on the CAMEL loom. heh... in this photo it looks like a grimacing Jack'O'Lantern. It's actually called "Star" and when it's laid out flat, you can see a four pointed star in there. I still need to cut it off the loom and hem the ends.
So, this morning I started in on another fleece - the gorgeous, soft "modified" grey Shetland lamb fleece from Linda Wendleboe - that also "followed me home" from SE ;-)
After much deliberation, I decided to trim off the tips. You see, I just love the grey color, which is next to the skin, and about 2/3 to 3/4 of the length of the fiber. Shetlands tend to sunbleach, and these tips are sunbleached. There is lots of length on the fleece, so off come the tips! There will still be some brown tint to the yarn - it'll be a warmer grey than the Cotswold. It has yet to tell me what it wants to be. :-) I'm thinking now that I'm retired... ... I could comb the locks and spin a fine yarn for lace. Ooooooooooooooooo!

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