Monday, April 23, 2012

It's been a busy time around here since my last entry.  This past weekend we had the open house for our new Jackson County Government Center where I work.  We spent all day Friday getting everything looking great for our visiting guests.  I volunteered at the open house and took care of making sure we had coffee and cookies for the visitors.  We had a great day showing off our new building to the citizens of Jackson County.  We moved in at the end of February and are working at settling in.  It's absolutely beautiful and I am so happy to have such a great place to work in.

I have been busy learning to scour (wash) my wool fleeces, pick them and card them in order to be ready for my next trip to Storden.  I want to have plenty of it ready so I can sit and practice spinning.  I thought that I would show you how the fleece starts off and what it looks like when I finally have it prepared to sit down at MaryB and spin.

I was fortunate that Connie and Norm had sheared their sheep and Connie shared the fleece of LuLu with me.  LuLu is a Corriedale sheep with beautiful white fleece.  This is what Lulu's fleece looked like after it was sheared from her and brought to me.

I then learned the fine points of scouring the fleece....can we say sheepy smell when wet!  lol  I diligently made sure my water was HOT HOT HOT, put the fleece into mesh laundry bags and added my Dawn dishwashing soap to the water and ever so gently added the bag of fleece so that it didn't feel it was being agitated and felt on me.  Left it soak for 30 minutes and repeated with another HOT HOT HOT bath.  After the second bath it was time to rinse it in a tub of hot water,  to which I added a good cupful of white vinegar.  By washing the fleece you are removing the lanolin and dirt and other undesirable items.  Then I ran it through a spin cycle in the wash machine and this is what it looked like after it had dried.

Amazing what a hot, soapy bath will do!  As I picked through the wool I wondered how in the world I was going to remove the VM (vegetable matter) which is grass, hay or whatever else LuLu decided she might roll around in, out of the wool for me to card it.  I did card some and it was very difficult to get it all out in that manner.  So I took to the internet for some research and came up with what else?....a wool picker.  What is a wool picker you may ask?

This is a version of a wool picker.  There are much larger, more dangerous and expensive wool pickers out there but this one had good reviews made by someone in Oklahoma so I ordered one.  Those are sharpened nails set at an angle in there as well as the piece with the handle when you lift it up has the same sharpened nails.  You put the washed fleece on the left side and slide the top piece back and forth across the wool.  This separates the fibers which helps to release the vegetable matter and fluffs up your fleece for carding.  Here is what the fleece looks like after it has been picked. There still is some vegetable matter in there but it can be picked out when I'm carding.

Fluffy like clouds in the sky!

Next I break out the hand carders.  They look like large dog slicker brushes.  Many sharp little teeth in them to align your fibers.

While carding the fleece I remove the remaining bits of grass and or hay and remove the fleece from the carders and make a rolag which is a little log of fleece.  From the rolag I pre-draft the fleece by pulling it into a thin, see through length of fiber about a foot and a half long.  Then I wrapped this around my hand and made what I would call a bird's nest.  Here is my basket that I have been working to fill with fleece that is now ready for me to spin on MaryB.

Beautiful white, soft as silk fleece from my friend LuLu, the sheep!!!  Thank you LuLu for kindly sharing your warm, soft fleece with me!!!!

I've been working hard to learn the finer points of the process from washing your raw fleece, to carding it in preparation of spinning.   Eventually when I can spin some presentable yarn that can be warped on my loom and made into something I have made from from the fleece of a sheep to a finished project I will cherish it for years to come.   I have a long way to go, but I find much joy and relaxation in creating something with my own two hands and that is what keeps me on my quest to learn.

My hope for you who read this is to weave your own dreams whatever they may be.  Thanks for stopping by and come back soon.


  1. My WORD you have moved quickly! You are doing a great, great job, so far! I love that LuLu's fleece is so white. A lot of sheep have cream colored fleece when cleaned. I'm proud of you. See you on the 5th of May.

  2. I have been moving! I just haven't had time to actually sit down with MaryB but I figured if I could get the fleece all ready then on May 5th I can sit and practice spinning. I find carding so relaxing, I have been trying to do some carding every evening after work. And I'm so pleased with how the fleece cleaned up and that it did get so white, it's gorgeous and soft! Looking forward to the 5th see you there!