Clouds of Fleece

Sheep

Sheep


We did get to go to the sheep farm! I spent over three hours buried up to the wrists in all sorts of fleeces. You know you are officially a wool-lover when you can pick through a fleece to get out all the twigs and worse things and not mind it one bit. I had an absolute blast. And things got even better.

When we went to the farm I was pretty sure that I might, possibly, come away with one pound of raw wool. Maybe. It was more expensive than I’d thought, and I didn’t know if they would sell me that small of an amount. But the Lord was in control, and it apparently was His will that I get more than that. The lady who was picking the fleece (cleaning them as they came off the sheep) started giving me chunks of wool from various sheep for FREE.

Some Bagged Fleeces

Some Bagged Fleeces

She said that the chunks were sort of second grade stuff, still good for spinning, but not quite top quality. I think I ended up with about eight ounces of all sorts of wool. Cream and black (that fleece was gorgeous). Then, out of the blue, my wonderful dad said that he was going to buy me two pounds of fleece! And the fun thing was that I got the wool out of a fleece from a sheep named Rebecca. It had my name on it—what can I say?

Can things get better? Oh, yes they can. My mom gave me permission to buy dyes! I now have three bottle of Acid Dyes that I’ll get to use on the wool! I’m so excited I could run in little circles cheering. I had originally been leaning toward the “natural” dyes because I thought there were less chemicals to deal with, but with the natural kind you have to use what is called a “mordant.” The mordant is chemical, to an extent, and I wasn’t all that eager to mess with that sort of stuff. With the Acid Dyes, all you need is hot water and vinegar. I’ve got a red, a yellow, and a blue, so I can blend them into whatever colors I want. I can hardly wait to get to work!

Unfortunately, I have to wait a little while. We need to get some pots to wash the fleece in, and to dye things in. Oh, and we want to get something to put in the wash water to make the grease (called lanolin) come out of the wool. And trust me, you need it. My hands were caked with grease by the time I finshed picking through the fleeces. It didn’t help much that the Georgia red dirt would get on there too so it would look like I was getting rusty. I hadn’t thought much about the fleeces being greasy. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned since diving into the world of spinning!

Me (on the left) Picking Fleece

Me (on the left) Picking Fleece

And, speaking of learning, I hadn’t realized how big sheep are. I had sort of subconciously said, “Yeah, a sheep. Sort of dog sized.” No way. Those things came up to my waist at least and were huge. You can get sheep that weigh three-hundred pounds . . . although I don’t know if that includes the wool.

Fleeces to be picked

Fleeces to be picked


The fleeces that I got to help pick ranged from four pounds clear up to a nine-pound whopper. I got first hand experience with getting a feel for the crimp (which is how much “crinkle” a lock of wool has), the fineness or coarseness of the fiber, and the way the colors worked. It was rather interesting to note that, no matter what the color of the fleece was (and they had some beauties there) the tips of it were always reddish brown. It took me a while to figure out why, then it occured to me that you don’t give sheep baths. They’re happily covered in dust and dirt when you bring them in to shear. And believe me, they get dirty. It doesn’t help that the road running past the pasture is gravel. (That was one of my few experiences with gravel dust. Later, when we opened and shut the trunk a dusty cloud billowed off of it.)

One of the ladies who came during shearing invited me to a spinning guild. I’d love to go. We shall see what the Lord wants me to do.

3 Responses to Clouds of Fleece
  1. Anne
    September 22, 2008 | 9:57 pm

    Heehee, Rebecca’s a cute name for a sheep! Sounds like you had a lot of funs. :o D

  2. Rebekah
    September 22, 2008 | 10:24 pm

    Definitely. In fact, just scrolling past the pictures made me want to go do it all over again!

  3. Mama Mentor
    October 1, 2008 | 9:35 am

    Well I’m sure your hands were very soft by the end of the day! Lanolin is supposed to be one of the best moisturizers ever!

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