One day, knowledge and experience will make my processing of a fleece easier and smarter.
This is merely strategery.

Opportunity arose early today for me to roll out the remainder of the fleece to see what's what. Up until a few days ago, I had no idea that they were even packaged in that way. Doh!
So what would be an experienced spinner's step one was my step five. That's OK, right?

I bagged the fiber into sections that I may or may not have identified correctly.

Before an awesome power nap (thank you Blogger autosave feature), my confidence began to waiver under the weight of all the options before me.
How much of this fleece should I use to card? How much to comb? Do I store it prepped and ready to dye before spinning or dye it afterwards, or not at all? Do I spin worsted, woolen or over the fold?  Gotta make the most of this opportunity. This could be my one and only fleece. (ha, ha, cough, cough).
What fleece should I shop for next week, if any? Look at all I have left to deal with!

This crafter mantra was necessary to publicly declare:

Maximum fun is job one. Knowing who I am, this means it is all about "the process."
Correct execution and/or the actual product from my creative endeavor is purely coincidental and cause for caloric celebration.

A calming mango ice pop later, it has been decided. An attempt at combing most of the fiber in locks will be made. Whatever is uncooperative shall be carded. All will be stored until I learn how to dye, leaving my options open to consider whether to spin first or not. Cool.

Time to ply something purple.


My Friend Flicker

My next goal was to properly comb through each lock of this second batch.

Spinning from carded fibers that are not really aligned was not as bad as I had experienced before. Easy breezy combed roving is my true love. Obediently parallel fibers sliding through my fingers as I spin in a meditative state...awesome.

I digress.

Dog grooming brush and combs. Check.

Flicking with a brush is supposed to open up the fibers. However, these tips were still yellow and a bit sticky, so good luck to me.

While slightly damp and only leaving an end exposed, I brushed away any tangles or nepps. Turning the lock in reverse, the same was repeated. Finally, I combed it all through. Is this correct procedure? I'm not sure. It did get the job done with little fiber lost.

Flicking and combing was so much fun! There is something so pleasing about handling sheep fleece.
It's like combing a doll's hair that smells like baby products.

Now about those unpleasant yellow tips... In an experiment, I found that a little vinegar/water dip dissolved the stubborn lanolin that did not want to let go of my little lamb. I think it even lightened up the staining. Just a few teaspoons was all I used.

Whoop, there it is! Vinegar is totally going to be part of my routine for next time. Perhaps a quarter cup per gallon? Here is a side-by-side comparison of scoured locks with yet crispy tips and a vinegar dipped piece pulled from them.

One more recommendation, this time from the amazingly awesome spinners in Ravelry's Fiber Prep group. Flicking before scouring will help to not only open up sticky tips, but also shed any vegetable matter that may be hiding in there.

Armed with these new revelations and a couple of toddler dishwasher baskets from Amazon, I'm going to knock out the rest of the fleece in good fashion. Pray with me for a sunny weekend soon!


Mission the Second

There's lots more fiber to be washed and carded; techniques and tips to be tried. Three grocery bags of fleece are quequed up. Cleverly hidden in plain sight, they await their turn at a bath.

Home Depot had an inexpensive 6' by 8' tarp that I'll be using to sort out the fleece into smaller parcels for washing. This go round, I've taken the time to separate out locks from the mass. Grabbing the fleece by the tips while wearing rubber gloves proved helpful. It was easier to find natural sections and smooth down the hairs. How yellowed and sticky they were!

Some locks went into a compartmented mesh bag. Other wayward fibers went into a basic small mesh bag since there was no structure left to be preserved. I'll just card it at some point.

The rest of the locks went into what I'd hoped would be the start of something wonderful, a dishwasher basket!

It spoke to me when I passed it in a local hardware store. In between layers of locks, I used some leftover plastic mesh. This mesh is the kind that folks use to make latch hook projects.

Seemed to be a good buy. No locks could shift since their width is about the same as the basket. The latch stayed secure and the weight of the basket meant that I did not have to dunk a mesh bag to keep it under water during the soak.

See how the lanolin settled to the bottom of the bucket

All in all, I had about five ounces washed in this second mission. The locks drying in the center came from the compartmented mesh bag. They turned out ok. Just a little tangling from friction at the cut end to be flicked out. I think the best senario came from the batch in the dishwasher basket.
I've ordered a toddler dishwasher basket which is taller and wider to hold more fiber. Can't wait to try it out this coming weekend.
More in the next post on how this all flicks out.



Here's some purple for your Monday.

It's Gale's Art BFL in Eggplant.
303 yards 6.5 oz and a mostly fingering weight yarn plied over the weekend. I'm hoping to make two more just like this in the weeks to come.



In lieu of spinning pounds and pounds of fiber stash to make room for more loot at this year's festivals, I have reached new heights of procrastinaton.

Last week,  the fleece bug hit me as randomly as it did when I bought and hid a five pound Romney fleece in my house after Rhinebeck 2011.
Yes. 2011, people. It was smallish and cleanish and smelled innocent enough. At the time I had no idea what to do with it, but nevertheless, home it came. All this time I'd stored it in a ziploc bag inside of a plastic storage chest. Unfortunately for it, the lanolin melted and stained what was a mostly white fleece.

Fast forward to a week ago where the impulse struck to rescue the parcel and there began a stealth  mission to wash and hand process this fleece into yarn. The first bit to be processed was about 3-4 ounces.
The fleece was all rolled and squashed. I have no idea what section I grabbed first, but the locks were about 4 to 4.5 inches long. 


So much information is available on how to wash and process fleece. Spin Off magazine, YouTube and Interweave videos, blogs and several books provide whatever you'll need to know.
My most recent research was with the dvd, Three Bags Full with Judith MacKenzie. It gave me the confidence to test my fleece to see if it was even salvageable. Once I did the snap test and found the fiber to be sound, I set to work in lightening clandestine fashion.

Like most, I used mesh bags to soak what I'd torn off from the sort of matted mass.

Two soaks in super hot water with Power Scour and a couple of rinses later, the water ran clear.
I was so glad that there was virtually no vegetable matter and no poop at all to deal with. In fact, the fleece never stunk, wet or dry. How lucky! Hope it's not the exception.

The bags dried in the sun spread out on a sweater drying rack.
It appeared that one bag was super white, the other stained by the sitting lanolin. Drat!
It was my fault for letting them sit for so long in storage. Oh, well. At least I relearned how to use my hand cards and combs. Not expertly, but enough to make a little yarn.

This whole day session was a such an invigorating learning experience. I'm obsessed!