Tuesday, July 11, 2006


OK, it's been a little while since I posted. Time gets away from me sometimes, especially when unemployed.

I've been busy though. Made another batch of raspberry jam with a friend. Have plans for many more canning things, though I took a break from it for the past week or so. I've been reading and knitting along on socks for a while. Started with another astrology group. And am nearly at the end of the DVD run of SG-1, though *koffkoff* S9 awaits viewing.

Anyway, I continue to work on the fleeces piling up here in my home. This one is an East Friesian fleece from True Ewe Farm in Flint Hill, VA. The jury is still out on just how smart it is to belong to yahoogroups like FiberBuyandTrade, FleeceforSale, etc. I've run into so much trouble since I joined those lists.... You can see the raw fiber here in this picture. I gather from the original ad that True Ewe Farm is a fairly new farm, and that the wool is a secondary crop after the milk & meat from this breed. I've been working off that assumption in evaluating the fiber.

Considering these sheep live outside, and aren't specifically a handspinners flock, I think the fleece was in great condition. I like the fact the farm uses homeopathic treatments on the sheep, and were I closer I'd love to buy some of their cheeses. Anything not riddled with anti-biotics = happy me. There was some colored wool included in the box, and I'm not sure what that was from. Flock markings? Accidental dye from something? Regardless, it went into the trash when I rolled out and skirted the fleece to my own tastes. Loss from my skirting was probably about seven percent of the total, though that's just a rough estimate. Since I handwash all the fiber, I probably skirt more aggressively than some would. It takes forever to do a batch by hand, so I try to only get the primo stuff.

I did test a few locks from different areas, and two had noticeable tender spots. As long as I'm not using this for rope though, I'm sure it'll be fine. :-D There were a number of second cuts - less than in some fleeces I've gotten, a few more than I'd like. They all shook out very easily though, or are fell out when I spun the wool dry in ze salad spinner. It's one of those things a skirting table would probably take care of, but it's not a huge deal. VM was pleasantly low (what little there was shook out/came out in the spinning), crimp was variable throughout the fleece, and while there was a faint hint of "milk" odor to the wool, it definitely smelled better than other fleeces I've received. Sheepy, homey and fabulous!

And while I was sorta dubious about how the wool would wash up (me and white wools sometimes have an adversarial relationship, though I think it was the Merino that really scarred me), I was very pleasantly surprised after my usual routine of two cool soaks, one hot wash and two hot rinses. While some of the tips are still faintly brown, the main body of the fiber washed up into a nice mellow off-white. I suspect it'll be even clearer once spun and the yarn re-washed. The grease content was what I'd consider in the "medium" range, but washed out easily. You can see in this pic the washed and dried fiber in the corner, along with a couple of small buns of combed top from my mini-combs.

I actually took the time to sample the fiber I combed. I'm not the best spindler, but I do love my Moosie from Journey Wheel, seen here. I think this fiber is probably not quite soft enough for me to wear as a sweater, but I do plan a hat, mitten and scarves from it. It's very bouncy, light and lofty, and has a ton of spring to it. I know you can't get a really good idea from the picture, but it has been a pleasure to spin so far.

Until I get bigger combs, a lot of my fiber is destined to be processed on the drum carder. I think it'll work well for East Friesian, as long as I take it slow and don't force/tug it so much that it stretches/bounces and snaps.

All in all, I think I'm really going to enjoy spinning up this fiber. It's a nice, bouncy and springy medium wool, and I look forward to working with it! If you're looking for something a little different, and a fiber not really readily available here in the US, I'd definitely recommend True Ewe's East Friesian!


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