As you know I have sheep. Wooly sheep. This means in my case I have lots of wool. I was going to sell my Jacob wool…then I realized my relationship with my ex wasn’t going to last and he wouldn’t let me have any of the Jacobs besides Khoresh…including the ram I bought, John. So I hoarded their wool. Then spring came and I had to shear my new sheep. Again, stuffed into feed bags and hoarded. Now lambing season is threatening, I’m eyeing my lambs fleeces and I’ve got 8 or 9 bags of wool in my attic already that I’ve barely touched. It just doesn’t seem right.
The fleeces all had the major nasties taken out (they’ve been “skirted” in technical terms)….but its all still dirty with lanolin on it. Unwashed stuff. And its not been carded, or brushed out, either. The bags are filled with a mix of emotion and time consumption along with wool. I finally ventured into my attic and started poking around the bags. I pulled out a lock from Ash’s fleece and it glistened with little beads of something wet. I ran a lock through my fingers. Beads of lanolin. Oil. Sheep oil. Interesting, I thought, that it actually beads up. Her locks grow black but the sun bleaches the tips to a milk chocolate brown. The tips are a little dry and crispy, lightly felted together, but suprisingly clean.
I’ve heard of “spinning in the grease,” but never done it. I’ve always washed the wool then carded it (which i never liked my end result) then spun the wool. I’ve felt it comes out dry, but its how your “supposed to do it.” I’ve successfully made hand spun wool then a scarf or hat, but never gotten from sheep all the way to clothing. Well, I’ve got wool to spare so i might as well try spinning from a raw fleece “in the grease.”
My word. It spun much better than any of my carded wool. Once i figured out to take the dogs wire hair bush and brush the felted ends open it was like spinning small bits of roving. It also kept the brown spots together to give the yarn a little color variation. Amazingly my hands got a little greasy, but hand hardly any dirt to show. My job as a jeweler leaves my hands dry and by the time i finished spinning yesterday the cracks of dry skin on my finger tips were closing up. Chirstmas day i spent spinning a single thread then I chain plied it this morning resulting in about 210 feet of 3 ply yarn. Afterwards I washed it.
Suddenly the bags of wool upstairs doesn’t seem so daunting. it will be interesting to compare how everyones fleece spins up. As for this stuff im already making more. what a nice sweater it would make.