kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (romneysheep)
Because a couple of people have asked, the icon photo is a Romney sheep. Romney fleece comprises about half of the fleeces I have to work with. I'm not sure whether the one I brought home is a Romney or a Lleyn, but I think we found out today that whichever one it is, it's OK for hand spinning.

Remember last night I took a bit of fleece and soaked it overnight in an effort to "wash" the wool and remove the suint, or sheep sweat (which is what makes it so sticky to the touch), some VM, and dirt, without removing the lanolin. The pictures and captions below tell that story, along with showing you what my carded wool looks like.

I have one more experiment to perform. Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] pola_bear and I hand-cleaned a bunch of still sweaty wool, just picking out VM with our fingers. I'm going to try flick carding a little bit of that tonight to see what the consistency turns out to be, and how different it will be from both the washed and soaked examples you'll see photos of below.

Photos below! )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (romneysheep)
This morning, [livejournal.com profile] filceolaire and I went to the Handweavers Studio so I could pick up a couple of carders, some drop spindles, and some commercially prepared fleece for spinning so I could get an idea of what it felt like. Nancy, the lady who owns Handweavers Studio, spoke to me for a few minutes, explained drop spindles to me, and absolutely advocated not washing this wool. She said we should just start carding, and if it was dirty, we should soak the dirty bits in water, just like standing in the rain.

Well, that was all well and good, but the fact was that the wool is sticky, and it's hard to get out all the straw, dirt, leaves, whatever, because everything sticks to everything else. PB and I hand-cleaned a bunch of the stuff, measured the fibre length and kinkiness and found it Good, tried to card a small bit to see if that would get rid of the rest of the dirt and impurities (it didn't), and so then we decided to experiment. We took everything we did for the first hour or so, which amounted to about 50g of wool, and took it through the washing process I'd found on the internet. We filled the sink with very hot water and added some mild liquid soap, then immersed the small amount of fleece and soaked for 45 minutes. Then we put it in the spin cycle on the washer, took it out, and rinsed it twice, the second time with vinegar, spinning in between each rinse cycle and afterwards. After that, I took it out and put it on the porch to dry. It is amazingly white and fluffy, although it still looks too dirty before carding. After carding, it seems to be doing a bit better.

I did despair a little bit, because I wanted very much to follow Nancy's advice and not wash the lanolin out of the fleece. Then, I came upon this article about spinning in the grease and preparing grease fleeces. So I have another hank of fleece in to soak overnight in cold water, just to see what might happen. I also have another hand-cleaned batch, which I'll flick card and play with a bit on the drop spindle.

Of course, you want pictures. [livejournal.com profile] stevieannie, I'm afraid I didn't take any pictures at the Studio; the only meaningful memory I have of it other than Nancy being an awful lot like Kathy Mar in mannerism, is the parking ticket. :-/

Pictures and some more details below. )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (romneysheep)
This morning, G and I went to Surrey Quays to pick up a jacket for him, as his old one is getting a bit ratty. We were successful! Then, we headed to Canada Water station to meet my friend A, who is in London for six weeks. After that, we got on a bus and headed up to Oxleas Wood.

We tromped from the Castle up to the cafe, and then down the east side of the wood, which just happens to be right across from Woodlands Farm. There, we met Janet, who is a volunteer at the farm. B had told her all about me, so she led me to the barn where my fifty-five fleeces are stored. The sheep were just sheared last week, and the wool is 18 months growth, because the old farm manager wanted to shear the sheep before Christmas, and when he left, they decided not to shear until the late spring the way most farms do, so they skipped the Christmas shearing and sheared in May.

Inside the barn, there was a huge farm cart full of big builder's bag, all full of newly-shorn fleeces. Wow! Some of course were dirtier than others. I told them I'd like to take one fleece away today, and Janet got me a bin liner to put my fleece in. I chose one from the extra builder's bag on the floor of the barn, because it was easier to get to. I picked the one with the longest, curliest fleece I could see, G helped with the bag, and then A, G, and I got on the bus for home.

Tomorrow, I'll head to the handweaver's studio in east London first thing in the morning, where I'll pick up carders and a drop spindle, just to see how it all feels. Then, [livejournal.com profile] pola_bear and possibly [livejournal.com profile] mokatiki will come over to enjoy(?!) the experience of washing a fleece for the first time. As some internet pages have suggested, I may soak the fleece overnight and see how much cleaner it looks in the morning.

The photos below the cut tag are of the fleeces in the barn, plus one photo of the one I brought home.

Pictures below )

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