Friday 11 April 2014


So we had located, selected and dragged home a pile of filthy fleeces. Before my eager hands could get them anywhere near my spinning wheel, they first had to be sorted and then scoured.  

I began by sorting. 

We laid the fleeces out one by one on the balcony, tips side up. The wool of a complete fleece has areas of different grades of fibre. The aim generally is to sort the fleece, dividing the best wool from the neck, shoulders and quarter of the way down the back, discarding the rest and removing the most soiled areas. Because of the differences in crimp length and fineness, if different parts of a fleece are muddled up whilst spinning, it may spoil the appearance of the finished yarn or cause it to make an uneven texture.  

Some spinners will go even further and separate the different qualities of wool into different cleaning and spinning batches to ensure an even spin. The unevenness of a spun yarn can go even further and lead to an uneven tension whilst knitting, resulting in a saggy sweater. 

I've been studying my spinning books for over a month in preparation for this task and fully intended to adhere to the advice.  Although it looked as though they had been shorn to a high standard, once shorn, the fleeces had been rather man-handled and roughly chucked together for storage. This made the identification process somewhat difficult and unfortunately once presented with a shorn fleece, I literally could make neither head nor tail of the thing!

I spent a long time picking through the fleeces, removing as much vegetation as possible as well as the shorter bits which I assume were from the legs and belly, although I can't be sure. Hopefully I'll be present at the next shearing in the autumn so that I can sort and process the fleeces as they are shorn. 

For the time being, I did the best I could and ended by deciding to get going with the washing and then card and spin with whatever parts come to hand. I am learning after all. 

No comments:

Post a Comment