Posts Tagged ‘Fiber’

Phew!

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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.

DSCN1157I’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!

DSCN1153The 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.

DSCN1175As 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.

DSCN0225It’s done, it’s done!  My Ravenwing shawl is done!

Okay, that’s not quite true.  I still need to block it, and weave in the many ends of yarn, but the spinning and knitting is done!  And I am so pleased.  This is the most handmade thing I’ve made to date.  The fibre blend was custom designed by me and blended to order by the wonderful World of Wool, handspun and plyed by me, and then knit by me. It’s absolutely beautiful, and I’m so sorry the early-morning light couldn’t capture how gorgeous this is, with the glittery rainbow fibre, glossy silk and deep, complex merino.

DSCN0219I’m not going to have a chance to block it until Monday, probably.  I’m off today to watch my little sister row at her last ever Women’s Henley before she leaves for exciting university adventures, so will be spending most of the weekend gushing with pride and feeling emotional.  I plan to at least get the ends weaved in so I can wear the shawl at Henley, though, and will endeavour to get some photos of me wearing it, for you.

DSCN0215It turned out exactly like I wanted – the fringe just reaches my hips now, so once it’s blocked it should hang a little lower, and the arms are long and wide enough to drape across my bust very comfortably.  It did take up rather more fibre than I expected, though – I have a single hank about the length of my arm left from the fibre, so we could very easily have had a bit of a panic moment, if spinning had produced just a little more waste!  In the end I was so excited to get it done that I was knitting straight off the spindle without even bothering to hang the yarn, not that it’s done any harm to the end result.

 

That’s it for now, and I’m very sorry I didn’t give you any Ravelry posts this week.  I’ve been knitting flat-out to get this finished, and simply didn’t have the time.  I’ll have to make it up to you with an extra-large one next week!

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