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Author Topic: New fleece to play with - shearing time  (Read 2122 times)

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
New fleece to play with - shearing time
« on: June 07, 2021, 01:36:26 am »
Mr F started shearing the ewes today  :yippee: :hugsheep:   The tups are all done already, but I don't use their fleeces as I seem to never get the smell out, and they tend to be quite coarse. They go from being mini musk oxen to becoming jet black svelte skinny little chaps  :sheep:  with long legs and horns all over the place.  The two white Shetland wethers are still to do but they are not ready, and I'm not ready to sort them, as their fleeces are huge! I'm hoping to get to my total of 25 kgs of white Shetland fleece for a mill spin to give me white yarn to dye at home.


Mr F uses hand blades and shears half a dozen or so at a time.  Today he did Betsy who has a strange fleece.  She is a pure 2nd shear Hebridean but her fleece is pale silver grey near the skin, and honey gold at the tips, long and she looks quite shaggy.  But off her, the fleece is light and soft, quite unlike normal Heb fleece and not greasy at all. So little grease in fact that there was almost no VM as it just shakes out.  I am beginning to work on her fleece from last year so I can now work the two together.  I'm really looking forward to how it works out - I'm hoping I can spin it up into a lightweight fairly thick yarn.


Another sheep he did today was a first shear, Soozie Quattro, who has a normal Heb fleece which is HUGE and thick with grease.  She must have been so pleased to get that off!  Underneath she is jet black, whereas Betsy is soft grey. Soozie's fleece had a fair bit of VM stuck to the grease, so quite a bit was discarded.  It's a nice fleece but I think I might get it spun up into yarn by one of the mills.  I have been collecting a 25kg sack for a year or two.


Another of todays fleeces was a Soay, who had already lost half her fleece. I haven't had a chance to sort it yet, but Mr F said it wasn't very good and he didn't think I would like it (he's become quite a good judge of fleece, although he doesn't spin).  There are 2 more Soays to go and I'm hoping for at least one fleece to spin.


The other three fleeces are waiting for me to sort tomorrow, when there will be no time for shearing. I'm cherry picking the best ones to skirt, pick over and wash and at this time of year it's just so exciting discovering what I've got.   The down side is that I still have a table covered with some of last years fleeces that I didn't get round to sorting.  They just don't look so appetising and I know several will end up on the bonfire.  I used to rail at folk who burned their fleece, but sometimes it's the only thing to do when there's a mountain  :(


Has anyone else got lovely new-season fleece to play with?
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: New fleece to play with - shearing time
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2021, 09:15:09 am »
Yes!  Am doing the same here - although I do 1-3 each day, 6 would be a marathon for me :o

I do them stood up, with their head in a headstock.  I sit on a milking stool to do the sides, neck and belly, and stand up to do the back and rump.  I love it but it takes me ages!  I don't attempt to get the fleeces off in one piece, and tend to skirt as I go, clipping off a good chunk for the "spinning" sack and then some edges and unders for the "garden" sack.  When I sort the spinning stuff further, any usable but coarser bits will go into the "peg loom" sack.

Because I like a mix of sheep, it's hard for me to collect up 10kgs of any one type/colour for the Natural Fibre Company to process for me.  (10kgs is the min quantity for rovings, 25kgs for yarn.) I just want to get more of my fleece ready to spin so that we use more of it.  And NFC rovings are gorgeous to spin - my fave prep.  As long as you only put the good stuff in, of course...

I had some tender fleeces last year, so they all got a mineral drench in winter this year and hopefully there will be more usable this time around.  I collated barely 5kgs of medium-long staple soft white last year, but if I can get all of Yin and Alice's white fleeces and Lessa's white bits, fingers crossed that will get me up to the 10kgs of that.  Otherwise it will be 2022!

I am on Rampisham Mill's email list and had hoped they might be taking in smaller quantities by now, but nothing heard yet.  So I will continue to collate all the medium-long soft grey in another bag; doubt that will get to 10kgs this year.  I clipped Mr Pie on Saturday, and he will go into that bag, along with some of Pugling's, but I don't think I want to mix browns and greys, and I am dubious about mixing very long lustrous staple with the less long softer stuff...  :thinking:  I do have Quincy's last year's Shetland x lamb's black fleece to come off. It's possible that could go in the "greys" sack, but I won't know until I get it off and have a feel.  It may not be soft enough, but it doesn't look to be too long, so fingers crossed :fc:

I have wondered about piling Quincy's marvellous lustrous steely blue Wensleydale in with her Romney x son Skyhawk's gorgeous white fleece.  Similar fibre, and would mix to give a pale grey.  I taught two of our newer members to spin last year.  Zane made socks from Quincy and Dan is making a jumper from Skyhawk but there is still loads left of each.  Between what we haven't used from last year, and this year's, that could make 10kgs.  And NFC process Sue Blacker's own Gotlands, so I presume can handle the longer staple...:thinking:

There are several sheep in the fawn to light brown range, not long staple and quite soft.  Again it will take a few years to get 10kgs of that...  I clipped Thunder on Saturday, he's Pugling's son from last year and his will go in that sack.  I think his sister Puggles' fleece may have that special Icelandic quality which means it goes straight into Sally's Spin Now pile...

Fizz, Manx x Shetland (Dot Cotton's last lamb, a bonus lamb born October last year) has the most wonderful rich toffee-coloured fleece.  Too amazing a colour to mix with anything else!  But she's a small sheep, so it would take years to collate 10kgs.  I shall have to prep and spin hers myself...  :excited:

Last year, some of Hannah's fleece went into Sally's Spin Now pile.  She's Shetland with a touch of BFL on her mother's side, and Skyhawk (Wensleydale x Romney) is her dad.  Huge dark fleece, browns and greys with a Long staple, not the softest but has that "Spin Me" quality that a good Romney does.  Fab for socks.   She's had her first lamb this year so it's possible her fleece won't be as good - I find that sometimes it takes them a year or two to balance the workload and still produce a nice fleece.

I could go on... and probably will, later ;)

Pic of Fizz attached, with her mum Manx Dot Cotton nearest the camera, Hannah with her lamb Corky behind.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: New fleece to play with - shearing time
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2021, 02:04:46 pm »
I used to use a milking stool when I was roo'ing shetlands and Soay, but my wethers are not roo'able, and the Soay ewes don't like the experience at all, so I don't have any to roo any more.  It was good sorting as I went just as you do, and with roo'ed tufts it was possible to spin directly from them, with no prep.


You have so much choice  :thumbsup: . Within my mostly Hebs there is a surprising amount of choice now I come to think about it, for nuances of colour, variations in fleece type, length etc.  There are enough different shades within Heb fleeces to weave a tartan (a rather funereal tartan  :D )


A long time ago I could spin 12 fleeces in a year for general functional work jumpers, but now I'm lucky if I manage a whole fleece. I have had fleece prepped as tops by NFCo which makes the spinning up so quick, and I have sold some to help with the cost. I'm working towards a first shear Heb prep to tops as well as the shetland to yarn for dyeing, but I really prefer using fibre I've prepped myself.  Getting it prepped is just a short cut. Although with my hands (as well as the rest of me) becoming increasingly arthritic and of limited movement, perhaps I can do less of that.  For knitting I'm having to use ever thicker yarn and needles.


I have a pre-shear pic of Betsy somewhere and I must take an after snap too.  She looks darker in the flesh than the shorn fleece is.
What do you do with your spun yarn Sally?  Do you spin with a FO in mind or do you see how the yarn comes out then decide what to make?  Or do you stash it?


For Betsy's fleeces I intend to blend in some coloured silk and bamboo to modify the handle, then make a jumper for me.  Mr F has too many jumpers and then he doesn't wear them as he says they're too good  ??? :rant: .  Maybe I should knit them with mistakes and holes in  ;D .  I have had handknit jumpers totally ruined by DiLs, one in particular who just chucks everything in the machine  :'(  so no knitting for grandkids any more.


No shearing today or tomorrow as we're getting our new high speed broadband connected up at long, long last and there's lots of computer techie stuff for the husband to do. I suppose I should start washing fleeces.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2021, 02:07:10 pm by Fleecewife »
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: New fleece to play with - shearing time
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2021, 02:21:52 pm »
Mostly, I have no idea what you two are talking about but I'me very glad you're happy  :hug: :hug:

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: New fleece to play with - shearing time
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2021, 04:37:46 pm »
Mostly, I have no idea what you two are talking about but I'me very glad you're happy  :hug: :hug:

 :roflanim: :roflanim: :roflanim:
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: New fleece to play with - shearing time
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2021, 04:43:23 pm »
I forgot to say, I used to get given a clip of a few old retired Heb ladies.  One Heb fleece was just as you describe Betsy's.  Silvery, tending to honey at the tips, not appreciably double coated, not greasy at all, longish, open and soft.   At the time I didn't realise how unusual it was for a Heb, and so I picked it for our workshop with Deb Robson.  (Of Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook fame.)  She said it was the best Heb she'd ever handled.  I still have a little of it left, and one other fleece from the same source which is a similar handle, but that one is a Shetland x Heb and is white. 
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: New fleece to play with - shearing time
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2021, 05:01:25 pm »
And I clipped Quincy's black boy this morning.  I think his black fleece will mix okay with the greys.  It's a little on the short side compared to the others which will be in the same batch, but I think it will be fine all blended together.

I realised as I assessed where I am at, that of my 15 (hopefully) fleeces this year, 5 will be from Quincy and her descendants - 3 sons and 1 granddaughter.  I heartily wish I'd ringed Bumper's tail, as his was the nicest fleece of all her Shetland x lambs, but there was so much foaming soft sproingy fleece around his backend, coupled
with Quincy's genes for tending to dags, and the long tail... he would get mucky and if you didn't stay on top of the dagging... :o  So I sent him off.  Her subsequent sons all got ringed but none of the Shetland x ones have had a fleece to touch Bumper's.  Skyhawk needs dagging a few times a year too, but so far I have felt that his ginormous amazing lustrous long Spin Me white fleece is worth the bother - and he doesn't have a long tail to help him make hidden muck-cakes at the back end, which was the problem with Bumper.  And Bumper was grey katmoget, so his colouring helped him disguise the muck-cakes too, whereas Skyhawk is white, so they are easily spotted.

(I've 18 adult sheep, but Pretty's Manx x Romney is too harsh for spinning, will be for peg looming.  Dot Cotton's own fleece is a scratty short thing so goes for compost; several of her offspring have had nice fleeces but her own was only nice in her shearling year.  Nigel the Shetland tup throws lambs with nice fleeces but his own isn't great and he usually roos himself quite early on so I just get a few matted pads off him, which go for mulch mats.)

Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: New fleece to play with - shearing time
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2021, 05:14:31 pm »

What do you do with your spun yarn Sally?  Do you spin with a FO in mind or do you see how the yarn comes out then decide what to make?  Or do you stash it?


All of the above!  Sometimes some fibre tells me what it wants to be, so it's prepped and spun for that purpose from the outset.  Hannah's fleece last year said "Socks!" loud and clear, for instance.  The very long Wensleydale and Wensey x Romney will make good warp yarns.  (I long to make fabric woven from all my own sheep, and I will get there.)  The more Shetland-y end of my spectrum of fleeces make good soft, woollen yarns, and with the different colours it's hard to resist doing Fair Isle with them.  I'd love to eventually have made everyone in the community a hat from our own sheep, and I have a dream of a home bred, handclipped, handspun, hand knitted Fair Isle jumper (or maybe waistcoat; we don't need thicker woollies for as many days a year down here!) for myself.   But I am just as happy to spin for the joy of it and wait until the yarn is needed.  I have a million projects in my head, it will all get used eventually! 

Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: New fleece to play with - shearing time
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2021, 09:52:00 pm »
Mostly, I have no idea what you two are talking about but I'me very glad you're happy  :hug: :hug:

No need to know the words, just sink your hands into one of your newshorn fleeces and you can be happy too  :spin: :knit:  :yippee: :yippee: :yippee:
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: New fleece to play with - shearing time
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2021, 10:23:15 pm »
I forgot to say, I used to get given a clip of a few old retired Heb ladies.  One Heb fleece was just as you describe Betsy's.  Silvery, tending to honey at the tips, not appreciably double coated, not greasy at all, longish, open and soft.   At the time I didn't realise how unusual it was for a Heb, and so I picked it for our workshop with Deb Robson.  (Of Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook fame.)  She said it was the best Heb she'd ever handled.  I still have a little of it left, and one other fleece from the same source which is a similar handle, but that one is a Shetland x Heb and is white.

When we first kept Hebs I just accepted the received wisdom that their fleece was black, coarse and double coated, with no crimp, pretty horrible to spin but also, weirdly, 'sought after by spinners'  ???  Then I started to spin and once I'd run out of Jacob fleeces I started exploring the Hebs. What I found was a huge variety of coat types, mostly double but some undercoat only (and from one particular breeder, top coat only ie hair, no fluff).  I found that older ewes would develop ever softer and lighter fleeces, often fading to soft silver or fawn. I found a pattern within the black, what I call 'silver mantle', a bit like katmoget but different to the normal greying with age. I had one lovely ewe who had no hair to her coat at all, just a single coat, unusual in a double coated breed.  Stupidly I sold her, just before I started my fleece flock; I've been kicking myself ever since as I've never had another  :rant:  I started judging Heb fleeces and realised there were very few spinners in the breed society at that time, so the information available was from those who didn't know.
Now, there is an increasing interest in biodiversity within the breed - we have a breed description not a standard as Hebs are a primitive breed, so there is room for a variety of traits.  We breed Ancient Type Hebs, Gladstone Flock, basically not changed by the influence of the show ring which has led to the Modern Type ie very black and very two horned. We have recently met people who are even more interested than we are in the wide variety of coat colour and type, and I am amazed at the colours which are coming out.  Perhaps in the past those lambs with odd coloured fleeces were surreptitiously swept aside, but now they are being celebrated.  When Betsy was born I was amazed at her colour.  I do get similar fleeces from my old ladies, but to have this Malteser type lamb was a shock.  I think she's the start of something new (or very old)  :excited:  So it's very interesting to me to hear that Deb Robson has also discovered this variety in Hebs.  It sort of gives it acceptance.
I have to admit, with shame, that when I was judging fleeces at one Heb event I disallowed a fleece because it was almost white.  It wasn't a white Heb as such, just a ewe with a very pale fleece, huge. Now I'm kicking myself as I can't even remember who brought it to the show.  I shall start experimenting with breeding for coloured fleeces, from some ewes I have from a particular source, including Betsy's mum.  I shall also try to keep an open mind  ::)
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Mad Goatwoman of Madeley

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Telford
Re: New fleece to play with - shearing time
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2021, 11:40:28 pm »
I have read this conversation with interest. I bought six suffolk x texel fleeces, all white, and have only used part of one of them which is mostly still in the prepping for carding stage. I have been debating getting the rest to a mill to be either spun or turned into rovings. Is it a viable project or would it make the finished yarn horribly expensive? I don't have a clue what the fleeces weigh but they are a good size. From what you say, FW, it would probably have to be rovings because I'm not sure they are 5kg each but it's possible. I need to weigh one somehow to get an idea. They are skirted and clear of VM. Would I need to do anything else to them?

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: New fleece to play with - shearing time
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2021, 09:27:29 am »
Natural Fibre Company have excellent info about their process and prices on their website

Halifax Spinning Mill (not in Halifax!) will do smaller quantities.  Paul is smaller and less well organised than NFC, and his scouring will leave more of the lanolin and dirt in than NFC's, but if you send him good, clean fibre he will make you delicious roving or slivers to spin.  Sheepfold use him for their rare breed fibres and yarns.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: New fleece to play with - shearing time
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2021, 12:50:43 pm »

The way to get a rough estimate of a fleece weight is to do a before and after on the scales weigh-in.  Weigh yourself or hubby, then add the carried fleece, work out the difference and Bob's your uncle  :thumbsup:


Getting fleece commercially prepped is expensive though.  I shut my eyes when I pay for it  :D   
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

 

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