Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On to the drum carder...

Here's the Dorset cross, time to card it and spin some more of it!  This is one of the nicest uncovered fleeces I've worked with.  Not much veg and so bouncy... I've decided that I really like down wools!  I know that this is a crossbred sheep, so the wool may not behave exactly like purebred down sheep fleece.  The Down sheep that I'm aware of are Suffolk, Hampshire and Dorset. Typical fleeces are dirty, short stapled and low in weight, (usually two or three pounds at best) since these sheep are raised primarily for their meat, not their wool. Down sheep fleeces are supposed to resist felting, which is wonderful for things like socks, which get washed a lot. 

When I raised Suffolks and Corriedales on my own farm I had a customer who bought all the fleeces from one very odd Suffolk ewe that I had.  Her name was Babe, (from the blue ox, not the pig) because she was HUGE.  She also didn't read the same sheep behavior books that I did, since she kicked like a doggone mule when I sheared her!  She was also a lousy mother - had triplets once and lost all three!  But - and this was the only thing that kept her in the flock - she sheared a five inch staple, ten pound fleece!  I still remember packing those fleeces to ship to California - since they don't felt, I could stuff them tight into a box and send them.  The customer was delighted at the way the fleece would leap out of the box - almost like Babe when she was released after shearing.

Enough reminiscing for now, here is a shot of the drum carded batt of the Dorset.  Lovely stuff - I think the shades of gray are my favorite of the dark wools.  I did ten batts, and hoping that will be enough to finish up the Stashdown project for February.  I still have quite a bit of this washed fleece left, and I still have about half of the quantity I bought unwashed. Another project I have planned for this fleece is a mohair blend - beautiful silvery gray locks of the mohair will give this wool a shine that should be fun to work with.  I checked the box the fleece arrived in - there is a name on it, evidently this sheep is named Dolly.  Funny that I get so much more pleasure from the fleece when I know the sheep has a name and not just a number.  Maybe because I named all my sheep too... I miss them so much sometimes.  Ah well, this gives me the chance to have some vicarious enjoyment of sheep farming.  Better yet, now I have the time to spin the wonderful wool!  So much fleece... so little time!

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