Saturday, July 21, 2012

fleece fate

Amy raised a good question in her comment on yesterday's post. I realized I never explained where this fleece was going.

We had an odd year as far as fleeces. Usually we sell our fleeces raw, i.e., straight off the sheep, to people who want to process it themselves. One or two fleeces may get processed into roving, which is the stage of fleece right before it is spun into yarn, but that is not our main seller.

This year, however, we only sold one raw fleece before Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. I would usually keep the fleeces through the summer and work on marketing them, with the remainder going to be sold at Rhinebeck. Since I will probably be missing Rhinebeck this year (sob!!!), and I have developed quite a few products that I need roving for, I dropped five fleeces off to Gail at Ozark Carding Mill, since she was at Maryland doing pick-up.

Four will be made into roving, to go into pincushions and sheep pins and felted soap, as well as to be sold to spinners. The last one will be millspun into yarn; I can't wait to see that result.

This batch has an entirely different purpose. These fleeces were problem fleeces. One had a weakness in the wool, because its owner Kalista had become very ill with worms last summer. When sheep are stressed, their wool can be affected at that point. This meant it was not suitable to be made into roving for spinners. Jasmine's fleece was somewhat sun-faded, and though several people had considered purchasing it, no one did. I took this as a sign. The last  batch was the skirtings from our ram's fleeces, which were clean but rather coarse so again not suitable for spinning.

All of this fleece will be combined and made into felted wool sheets. A fellow shepherd in Oregon makes the most wonderful wool insoles from the felt, and I am going to try this product as well.

The last product is, of course, the blended roving from Hermione's fleece and the alpaca. The alpaca will lend the Coopworth fleece some softness, while the Coopworth will provide loft and strength to the alpaca. I hope that spinners will find it irresistible.

So, a long answer to a short question! I will share the results as they arrive back from the mills. At the moment, I am enjoying the sensation of having 16+ pounds of wool gone from the basement. Unfortunately there is still quite a bit left down there... Operation "Get Fleece Out of Our House" continues.

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