Eight bags full — my cup is full!

You never know what is going to inspire you, and where it may take you.  That’s the FUN of living, and I’m starting to rediscover that life can be fun.

I happen to see an excerpt of a DVD Called “Three Bags Full” made by Judith Mackenzie, this inspired me to buy the DVD.  The day it arrived I watched it.  Judith was showing us how to select raw fleece, and how to EASILY wash it.  All you really need is a pot of hot water and a good detergent (well — I’m going to add rubber gloves to the equation).  Hmmm, maybe buying raw fleece is not such a bad idea — once it’s washed, it is pretty easy to deal with, and I DO have 2 drum carders, after all.

While mulling this over, I noticed while peeking at “friend” activity on Ravelry, that Trina had made a dandy version of the Aranami Shawl using Jacob fleece that she hand prepared.  Can you just see the little wheels in my mind start to turn???  I was already making plans to attend the 2013 Maryland show — EARLY Saturday for the fleece market.  But really, 7 months into the future, could I really wait that long?  (NO)

Time to call in Google and Internet searches.  I found a place near by (just an hour or so away) called Barking Rock  and another site called Three Fates Farm, in Illinois.  I called Colleen at Barking Rock and arranged to come out.  I picked Punkin’s Lambs fleece.

 It did have a yellow stain, but hot water and soap would ensure the fleece would remain undamaged (but still yellow) — I have to say that the yellow cast makes for a lovely wool, I wouldn’t change it for the world! I will be making Jared Flood’s Quill with this super springy yarn.  Washing was easy, there was a lot of VM so — carding was a bit messy — I did not clean the downstairs until I had gone through all of it!  It is a bit of a bumpy spin — an extra run through the drum carder would have been a good idea.

I emailed Karen at Three Fates Farm, and she sent pictures of fleece from 4 different ewes.  I already had a mostly white fleece, so I was looking for color variation.  Calliope looked just perfect for me, so I bought her 2011 and 2012 fleece.  When the box arrived and I pulled out the first fleece, I was amazed at how very little VM was in the fiber!  I test washed some of the dark and some of the white, and it was wonderful — soft and springy.  What fun.

 

Sorting:

Washing:

I separated out 4 distinct color groups from Calliope’s fleece.  Each went into a storage bin.  For the next 4 days, after work I washed one group at a time.  HOT water, textile detergent, BIG pot and rubber gloves.  It took 2 hot water washes, and 2 rinses.  Then into the spin dryer and hanging in a net bag with a fan on it.   This was EASY.

Carding:

I wanted this to be well carded, so I developed a little production line.  Using my hand cards (again each evening after work) I carded through the color group — just a few passes at a time — to get any VM out and to open the locks.  The next phase (on the weekend) was to run the opened locks through my Louet Roving carder, and then 2 of those into the Louet Blending carder.  The result was a nearly VM free 1 ounce batt.

Spinning:

I need five shades, but there are 2 light greys and 2 darks — one more grey one more black.  So it should work out fine.  I placed all the greys with a “parter” of nearly the same shade for 2 oz 2 ply skeins of yarn.  The triple carding is really paying off — it spins like butter, is very clean, and will make a super elastic, full of air, nicely fuzzy yarn.  Just what you need for a light weight, but warm shawl.

 

I had not even finished with the first fleece from Karen before I decided that I had to have more — so I bought all she had from the other 3 she had sent pictures of, Norah – 2 Fleece (Calliope’s mother) Freya – 1 Fleece and Thea – 2 Fleece.  It is now sitting in my basement, waiting to be unpacked!

Freya

Norah

Thea

What am I going to do with all of this fleece?  I do have a plan!  Of course, I will use all the Jacob that I want (I have at least 2 shawls planned, possibly a third)  THEN I am going to spin the yarn and make up a few kits for a local yarn shop — Jacob My Shawl kind of thing.  THEN I am going to offer batts of sorted, carded Jacob fleece for spinners!  When those clever little wheels start turning, all kinds of good ideas take root.