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.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.
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.
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.
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!
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.