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Author Topic: Types of Fleece  (Read 10278 times)

morri2

  • Joined Jun 2008
Types of Fleece
« on: October 19, 2010, 04:31:48 pm »
Wonder if any handspinners out there can give me a bit of advice.  I am hoping to start keeping a flock of sheep purely for fleeces.  I have purchased four Bowmonts (from Anke) to make a start and am awaiting the results of a wool count. One of these days I hope to get myself a spinning wheel - but not immediately as I don't have enough time at the moment.   I also have Polled Dorsets, three of which have, oddly enough, turned out either black (or rather brownish) with some white patches.  They are actually really cute given their teddy bear faces.  I believe Dorset fleeces are good for spinning too (please put me right if not).   I seem to have heard somewhere that coloured fleeces are quite popular with handspinners and so, rather than sell them perhaps I should keep hold of them for their fleeces.  Any input would be gratefully received.  :wave:

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Types of Fleece
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2010, 08:42:01 pm »
Hi Caroline, try and find your local Spinner's guild, (http://www.wsd.org.uk/guilds.htm) then have a chat with them. if you have good fleeces then selling them at the likes of Wonderwool Wales or the Woolfest @ Cockermouth would be an option, for that they can normally be just "off the sheep".  I found spinners quite keen to try Bowmont fleeces, but they often prefer to buy washed and carded, which is a lot of work or expensive to get done through the likes of Whoolyshepherd (but probably very good quality). Talk to her about prices, and also to spinners about what they pay for good fleeces like Polwarth or Merino (also check websites of the likes of Fibrecraft or similar) for comparison.

But once bitten by the spinning bug I know the fleeces will accumulate in your garage/shed - they do in mine and I cannot bring myself to throw them out.... but have started to spin again a lot in the evenings - if I don't spend it all on TAS....

I don't really know about Dorsets though, as they are not really a sheep for Scotland.... I have played about (on my spinnig wheel) with different colours of Shetlands, and really liked the results, so if you have several colours on the one sheep that might be very interesting. Spinners like Jacobs for that reason.

Also companies like Scottish Fibres (or similar in Wales) might be interested in buying fleeces, which they then wash/card for selling on, not sure what they would pay though.

If you put a Bowmont fleece into the fleece section of your local show you should be in with a fair chance of winning, unless someone has really good Polwarths or Merinos.

morri2

  • Joined Jun 2008
Re: Types of Fleece
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2010, 09:32:49 pm »
Thanks Anke, thats really helpful.  Plenty there for me to think about.  I really like the idea of spinning some of my own wool and knitting clothes (I can actually knit!). I just need a bit more time to devote to it.  In the meantime, I have given the bag of wool you kindly donated with the Bowmonts to a friend of mine who spins - on the basis that she lets me have a ball of wool back so I can try it out.  Can't wait to see what its like.  All the best :wave:

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Types of Fleece
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2010, 11:15:59 pm »
You can have great fun cross-breeding to produce interesting fleeces for spinning. A Jacob tup over a white ewe will produce coloured fleece. I used to keep several interesting ewes and tried various combinations including using Jacob and Shetland tups on both pure-bred and crossed ewes.
Don't forget though that not every spinner wants the finest fleeces.  You can buy ready-to-spin Merino in every colour imaginable for peanuts, so many spinners will not see the point in going through all the effort of dealing with a raw Merino fleece.  But spinners soon get tired of the bought stuff and want something with a bit more character.  I certainly found that being a spinner helped my understanding of the properties of the fleece of each of my 'fleece specials', so I could help buyers to choose something suitable for their project.  I kept a small wether flock for several years, and their fleeces were top quality, without the stresses of lambing which ewes go through, and without the tuppy smell added by rams.
Although you are busy, it would be worth making a small start with your spinning to help your knowledge of what you are breeding.
www.scothebs.co.uk

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus

morri2

  • Joined Jun 2008
Re: Types of Fleece
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2010, 09:14:20 am »
I've heard that wethers produce good fleeces somewhere before.  Why is that, is it just luck of the draw, or is it a 'man' thing?
To be honest, its not the spinning which is preventing me making a start, but the time it takes to card the wool.  Oh! and I need to buy the equipment too.  At the moment I'm trying to get through my MA dissertation, which I hope to finish by April so once that's out of the way (if it doesn't end up dragging on until the following April), then I'll have more time available.  I'm a complete beginner to wool processing, although I am doing lots of research into fleeces/breeds etc.  Would a drum carder be a lot quicker than the hand version?  Thanks!

jinglejoys

  • Joined Jul 2009
Re: Types of Fleece
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2010, 01:43:47 pm »
Wendsleydales?Leics longwools etc etc?

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Types of Fleece
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2010, 08:52:28 pm »
Drumcarders are quicker than the hand version, but very expensive. If you buy secondhand (I have so far not succeeded they are rarely available from trusted sources - other than ebay) you have to be sure it is working properly. They are easily broken or don't run properly. If you are a beginner it is best to start with the two hand carders. I always wash my fleeces with Ecover washing up liquid before carding, as I don't want to ruin my spinning wheel/carders and prefer the wool not be smelly...

well off to do some spinning now....

ellisr

  • Joined Sep 2009
  • Wales
Re: Types of Fleece
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2010, 11:29:03 am »
I was told by Wooly Shephard that Ryeland wool is good. I sold mine on ebay this year and got good prices, I am not lucky enough to have a spinning wheel so can't spin my own but I am trying felting with my other x breed fleeces

morri2

  • Joined Jun 2008
Re: Types of Fleece
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2010, 01:49:47 pm »
Hi! Ellisr, if you don't mind me asking, what did you get for your fleeces?  You don't have to tell me if you don't want to - but a rough idea would be helpfull.  Cheers!

ellisr

  • Joined Sep 2009
  • Wales
Re: Types of Fleece
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2010, 02:26:33 pm »
I got between £7 and £12, I kept a couple back as I was hoping to get a spinning wheel but that hasn't happened yet

morri2

  • Joined Jun 2008
Re: Types of Fleece
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2010, 04:15:19 pm »
Thanks Ellisr, thats a good price indeed.  I must get around to getting myself some equipment one of these days too, so I can have a go myself.  It would be great to have a hand knitted pullie from my own sheep!

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Types of Fleece
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2010, 08:46:22 pm »
Caroline, I know you are sorted for a ram, but there is also a flock of Bowmonts in Devon (but is that further away from you than Boders??), They are www.devonfinefibrers.co.uk.

Regards, Anke

morri2

  • Joined Jun 2008
Re: Types of Fleece
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2010, 09:44:59 pm »
Hi Anke, thanks for that.  Yes, I know about the Devon company, I have have been in contact with them by email a number of times.  They are very helpful, but could not provide me with a ram, not this year at least.

Miss Campbell has withdrawn her ram lamb from sale since our last communication, he's growing too slowly, so is holding him back.  She has, however, given me another couple of phone numbers for other Bowmont breeders in Scotland.  I might put them to my Dorset ram this year though.  I am told Dorset/Bowmont cross would produce a good fleece until I can get properly sorted with a Bowmont ram.  :wave:

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Types of Fleece
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2010, 02:30:01 am »
I've heard that wethers produce good fleeces somewhere before.  Why is that, is it just luck of the draw, or is it a 'man' thing?
To be honest, its not the spinning which is preventing me making a start, but the time it takes to card the wool.  Oh! and I need to buy the equipment too.    Would a drum carder be a lot quicker than the hand version?  Thanks!

I think wethers produce better fleece simply because they don't have the stresses of lambbearing which ewes have. Any stress on the animal, such as an illness will produce a check in wool growth, which shows as weakness in the fibre. Tup fleece tends to smell horrible, but wethers don't suffer from that.

You don't need expensive equipment to make a start on spinning.  I can remember trying to go the bulk route myself, but really all you need is a spindle and a pair of hand cards.  That way you will be learning from the feel of what you are doing at each stage.  You won't produce much yarn, although it is possible to get very quick with a spindle, but you will be learning the properties of fleece. 'Spinning' can be taken to refer to all the processes involved in producing yarn, so try not to think of carding as a waste of time and getting in the way before you can start the spinning itself - that is always the quick part.
I recently bought a beautiful hand-turned Turkish spindle which is a delight to use, and very easy to control.  It also has the advantage of producing a ball of yarn straight from the spindle.  Unfortunately the lady who made it doesn't have a website. (The Ashford equivalent is big and clumsy and not really suitable for fine yarns).I'll see if i can get a pic of it.
Meanwhile, a way of seeing the properties of any fleece you are looking at is to do a small piece of 'finger spinning'.  To do this, you take a tiny lock of fleece, open out the tips and butt (work them gently with your fingers until the fibres are separated), roll it into a fluffy tube so the fibres run around it, not lengthways, then draw out some fibres, twisting them as you do so.  Continue to draw and twist until you have a few inches of spun yarn, then fold it in half, back on itself to form a short section of two ply yarn.  This will show you how freely the fleece spins and the type of yarn you can get from it.  It takes a while to get the hang of it at first but it is a good way of assessing a fleece quickly for its spinnability.
www.scothebs.co.uk

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus

morri2

  • Joined Jun 2008
Re: Types of Fleece
« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2010, 10:12:38 am »

Thanks Fleecewife!  I will have a go at that.  I still have my Dorset fleeces waiting to go to the wool board, so I'll have a try with one of those.  I think I'll have to print out your instructions and keep them somewhere so I don't have to try and do it at the computer!!!  :wave:

 

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