My neighbor Andy had a friend with sheep, but no reason to keep the wool. The lady he usually gives his fleece to didn’t want it this time. This all came up in casual conversation and I almost passed out when I realized that maybe, just maybe I could get my hands on this fleece. A month went by before I saw Andy again to ask him about it and when I finally did he said he’d look into it and bring them to me if his friend still had it. There were a lot of ifs and maybes so I didn’t get my hopes up. A whole fleece could fetch $30 or more raw and much more if it’s been processed into something you could spin right away so you can probably understand why I got a little excited.
I went on a camping trip this weekend on the coast, had fun and came home dirty and tired. My first stop was Monty’s cage (which has been relegated to the back deck now that the weather is nice). I had to step around this big blue tarp squatting on the deck to get to his cage and I thought “Well now, that’s a lot of disgusting insulation… I wonder how long THAT’S going to be here. Hurumph…” and didn’t think about it again until Mom and Dad came home. “Oh, so did you see your fleece out there?” Dad asked when they walked in the door. What I thought was a pile of nasty insulation was, in fact, a pile of skanky wool. Six fleeces, to be exact.
Now, I’ve never carded or washed a fleece before… and all I have is a little hand spindle for spinning it. I walked up to the tumorous mound very very carefully… I didn’t want to startle it in case it was really some sort of dead mountain beast hanging out on the porch. I opened the tarp and started picking through the pile, trying to determine where one fleece started and where the next ended. I couldn’t really, so I just pulled a large hank out onto the table. Underneath the… stuff… is some really really nice wool! I did a little research to figure out how exactly to go about making that huge pile into a nice, clean pile, and I found a nice little description on Fuzzy Galore. I went around the edges, pulling off the especially nasty bits and stuff about four pounds of fleece into a mesh laundry bag. Now I’ve got it soaking in the upstairs bathtub and hopefully, it’ll turn out well enough to card, spin, knit and then wear! How COOL would that be!? For free!
I don’t know what kind of sheep they are, or how much is here, but it’s probably just under 50 pounds.
I swear, it’s not a tumor.
This is where you can see the part of the wool that was closest to the sheep’s skin (the whiter half) and the part that was exposed to the elements and… other things less pleasant (the darker portion).
Look how crimpy the fibers are! So cool. Everything is covered in lanolin and a little bit damp but after I’m done washing it all (which will take all darn summer if I do it in the tub like I am now) it will be a big fluffy cloud of wonderful. Oh I’m so happy!