Processing Sheep Wool –
No Fleece Left Behind
So the title is actually a technique on how to clean and process even the dirties fleeces. I’m just borrowing it to reference that every fleece is good for something, and there is more to wool than just Merino. Sure, I like Merino like the next person (see my article in the Summer 2019 issue of Spin Off Magazine). However, it’s not the only wool, and soft fleeces aren’t the only useful ones. When possible, I try to buy fleeces from growers whose purposefully grow for hand spinners. There are some exceptions, and if the price is right I give it a try.
This mix breed sheep fleece was purchased by the ladies of Praxis, and at first glance, it looked a hot mess. When it comes to fleece, don’t let that deceive you. Washing does a lot. First I did some heavy duty skirting, as experience tells me what parts are useful and what won’t get better. I separated into prime, seconds and unusable, which left me with a whole lot of fleece. It felt pretty greasy in the separating, but it sure washed up nice to reveal decent length and crimp. Plus is was softer than I initially believed.
After a quick hot wash and dry, I was able to just flick out the ends into little clouds. Minimum effort and it’s ready for spinning.
You can view the video of me carding here. https://youtu.be/Y0SEhx3dp_0
Part two to come.
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