At long last, they’re here. Four bags containing two lovely fleeces shown from a couple of ouessant sheep. They’ve been stored in bags a few months, and appear to have been pulled apart somewhat before being stuffed in the bags, so they aren’t in as good a condition as they could be – the lanolin has turned sticky with age, which means I can’t spin in the grease, and some parts are matted. I still expect to get a goodly amount of usable fibre from them, of course. I just need to give them a gentle washing and combing first.
I’ve been pulling out some of the nicest-looking locks. Would’ve loved to spin these in the grease, but the lanolin is far too old and sticky for that now, so I need to scour them and then obtain some hand-carders to fluff them up with. Ouessant sheep are a small breed – they typically reach no higher than your knee – and have a primitive fleece, which means it contains a mixture of all the different fibre types sheep are bred for in varying amounts. In contrast, merino sheep have fleece that is almost all the short, fluffy undercoat, for example. The primitive fleece makes for a challenging spin even with a fresh fleece that was rolled and stored properly, so I’ve got quite a challenge for my first raw fleece project!
The bulk of the fleece looks like this – grassy, matted and in need of some TLC. I can’t wait to see how it turns out with proper care. I definitely can’t do anything with this until I get some carders. Those things run at ridiculous prices though, so I might try a cheat – I’ve heard you can card with a pair of large paddle dog brushes. I’ll get a couple as soon as I can and give it a try.
As I said, not suitable for spinning in the grease, but I had to attempt it with a few locks just to see what the fibre looks like spun. It’s rather pretty I think, and I plan to overdye some of it to see what colours come out of that beautiful natural black fleece. Even sticky with lanolin, grass and farm muck, the fibres are really quite nice to work with. They are rather brittle though, which is a worry. I’m sure it’ll be fine, but I suspect this will need to be spun to no less than worsted weight.
- Fleece Checks and Sheep Suits (towerranchalaska.com)
- Fiber-a-holics are your ready??? (barnontheweb.wordpress.com)
- Late dye harvest (colourcottage.wordpress.com)
- Foula Wool (katedaviesdesigns.com)
- I’ve Got Good Taste (towerranchalaska.com)