Monday, December 5, 2011

From Fleece to socks

A lot of my gifts are made from fleece this year and for that fleece, I have Dave Wallace, A Peninsular sheep farmer to thank for that.
In a casual conversation I mentioned I was looking for a fleece or two. This dear man and his wife gave me the fleece of 13 Suffolk sheep

I was used to buying fleece in the grease as it is called when it is not washed, but these deer lambs had not been skirted so I had more than the **Grease** to contend with.

I started with a two week soak, till it sort of ferments, then a rinse and a manual breaking of all solid matter that is still attached.

Then after another short soak, I brought it into the house in batches.

I used the usual cleaning method or putting in hot water with some Dawn. Then when it cools, rinse and spin.
Then it is dried. I put it on a rack in front of my pellet stove or in the sun in warm weather.

Now we have to open the fleece with a medieval torture looking device called a picker. It has a swing arm with spike in it to separate the fibres. It is incredible how it expands when it has been picked.

The next step is again labour intensive. It needs to be carded. This is done either with a drum carder or for the purist two brushes with wire teeth that make the fibre all lay the same way so it can be spun.

Now we will introduce the fleece to the spinning wheel and start to make yarn.

This is either knitted, crocheted, woven, or whatever other project you have in mind.

The fleece or the yarn stage the product can now be dyed. Chemical or natural dyes can be used.

I use onion skins for lovely yellows, indigo for blue and cool aid for red. From these I can use the primary colour blends can produce a mired of colour.

Dave in shearing time, I hope you remember my phone number.

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