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Author Topic: Can I save any of this fleece?  (Read 2315 times)

Clarebelle

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • Orkney
Can I save any of this fleece?
« on: July 20, 2016, 02:40:44 pm »
We got our first sheep as lambs last year so this is our first year shearing. We only have four sheep so decided to shear ourselves. I have a wheel and wanted to learn to spin with my own fleece. However, we have shorn one sheep and couldn't get the fleece off in one lovely go so I have lots of little bits of fleece. Can I save it? Even if it won't produce good quality wool it would be something for me to use to practice with if there is a way to still use it. If I can use it, what do I do now? Thanks spinners  :spin: :spin:

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Can I save any of this fleece?
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2016, 03:54:59 pm »
Getting a fleece off in one elegant piece is for the Wool Board.  For spinning it makes not one iota of difference.  Sort through it and put into separate pots for fine and crimpy and coarse britch wool.  Proceed  :spin:  ;D and let us see your results  :sunshine:
www.scothebs.co.uk

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Clarebelle

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • Orkney
Re: Can I save any of this fleece?
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2016, 05:34:09 pm »
That is exactly what I wanted to hear! Any advice on how to tell if it's fine etc? Also, do I need to wash it?

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Can I save any of this fleece?
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2016, 12:08:06 am »
If you can get the fibres to glide past each other, it'll spin.  If the tips are mucky - which with a first fleece they often are - you may need to open up the tips before you can get the fibres to glide.

Washing or not before spinning is personal preference.  I would always recommend an overnight cold soak, whether or not you are going to wash with detergent too. 

To open the tips, if they need it, you can comb them using a dog comb, or flick them using a flick carder or dog slicker brush.

Let us know how you get on!
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

Mad Goatwoman of Madeley

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Telford
Re: Can I save any of this fleece?
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2016, 12:46:43 am »
How lovely to be able to spin from your own sheep. What breed are they?

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Can I save any of this fleece?
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2016, 01:03:39 pm »
That is exactly what I wanted to hear! Any advice on how to tell if it's fine etc? Also, do I need to wash it?

Somewhere on TAS, or maybe it's on my website, is a description of how to assess a fleece fully.   Briefly, here goes:  First off, check that the fleece is not matted badly ie it's not hard to pull it apart with your hands.  Check it's not full of stuff, such as feed, bits of vegetation, the odd bit of barbed wire, or whatever - the prep would be too great to make it worth spinning. Then just feel the fleece, or small bits of it.  The butt end (which was closer to the skin) gives a more accurate result than the tips, which as Sally points out are often dirty or stuck together.  If you close your eyes, you can feel with different parts of your hand which is softest and which is harshest.  Next, take a very small clump of fleece, hold it one end in each hand, and open it out into a mesh.  Everything looks fine at first when you do this, but if you take different parts of the fleece, or bits which feel softer or harsher, and compare them against a contrasting background, you will see that some are finer than others. Then you want to check for crimpiness.  In general, crimp (crinkles along the length of the fibres) increases with the fineness of those fibres.  Reasonable crimp makes it easier to spin, up to a certain point.  On many sheep breeds, the britch wool can be the coarsest, with little crimp (this is the bit they point to the worst weather, to keep the front end at least slightly dry).  The best and softest fleece can usually be found on the shoulders, flanks and around the neck - except the neck is also where the worst vegetation and dropped feed tends to lurk).  The coarser area can be used for outside clothes such as work jumpers, or for weaving, whereas, depending on breed, the finer areas may be fine enough to wear next to the skin - eg Shetland.

www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

   Five Freedoms
   # Freedom from Hunger and Thirst.
   # Freedom from Discomfort.
   # Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease.
   # Freedom to Express Normal Behavior.
   # Freedom from Fear and Distress

Clarebelle

  • Joined Jan 2013
  • Orkney
Re: Can I save any of this fleece?
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2016, 03:51:12 pm »
Thanks everyone, I have two pure Shetland, one Shetland cross and a commercial cross ewe. I'll let you know how I get on!

Mad Goatwoman of Madeley

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Telford
Re: Can I save any of this fleece?
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2016, 01:13:41 am »
Shetlands should be fine. Good luck.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Can I save any of this fleece?
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2016, 12:32:58 pm »
Thanks everyone, I have two pure Shetland, one Shetland cross and a commercial cross ewe. I'll let you know how I get on!

Shetlands should be fine. Good luck.

They all should be fine!  (Says she, with a flock of Shetland crosses, bred on purpose for fleece!  And with commercial ewes on this farm who have wonderful fleeces, much sought after.  One of my favourite fleeces last year was from a commercial X (Shetland X commercial.))

Only if the fleece has felted on the sheep's back (which, sadly, a lot of ours did this year - all the Mules and some of mine  :'(), or if there is a break in the staple, would the fleeces be unusable.  And even some fleeces with a break are usable - either by pulling off the short bit, or, if the break is midway and there's enough length either side, just use both halves.

I wouldn't recommend buying a less-than-ideal fleece, of course; it's easy enough to find good ones, but when it's your own sheep, of course you want to use it if you can.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2016, 12:36:24 pm by SallyintNorth »
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

 

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