Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring, Where Art Thou? Come Home Soon.

The last couple of weeks have been kind of nightmarish around Farm Genevieve. We sheared the Shetland sheep and Angora goats when the temps reached into the 80s! We could smell spring in the air as spring trees began to flower and early bulbs began to bloom. Woohoo.

Then we were hit with rain, cold, high winds, and even a little snow. Waah. I wouldn't be so whiny, but we're totally out of hay, wood for the wood stove to heat the house, and the roof of one of the chicken coops blew off in a storm.

In between the weather and minor tragedies, I've been skirting my own fleeces and preparing the blends. I very happily sent off twenty pounds to the processor. That's twice as much as I did last year and I'm so excited. Most of it will come back as wool blended with mohair or llama or alpaca. I even have a new blend of Genevieve with an unusual reddish-brown baby alpaca (cria).

Genevieve says: You're blending me with what?? 

The weather forecast says more cool temps and rain next week. This dodgy spring weather has made it difficult to dry fleeces and skeins. Today, there was a bit of sun and the wind died down, so I quickly got to work. Skeins of singles were dyed then hung out to dry. Once dry, I will spin these singles into bulky two-ply yarn.
Skeins dry on the deck; Pilgrim geese and Indian Runner ducks lounge in the background.
I am a BIG fan of sheep that produce down wool. So, after skirting my own Shetland fleeces, I picked up 60 pounds of Suffolk and Tunis from my Hay Man and 30 pounds of Clun Forest for my small animal vet. After skirting and skirting and skirting and skirting, I came away with only 33 pounds of usable wool. And, they were still D-I-R-T-Y.
Dirty Clun Forest.
Why would someone hold onto this kind of fleece, you're saying right now. Good question. Well, underneath all that dirt and grime, I could see "some kind of wonderful" as Grand Funk Railroad would say! While skirting, when I came across a fleece that I could tell instantly was a diamond in the rough, I would run into the house to wash a sample, dry it, and spin it.
Clean, beautiful Clun Forest with a whole lot of potential.
My processor has complimented me on my lovely, clean Shetland fleeces which leads me to believe, that she would probably have a heart attack if she saw these. So, I plan on washing and processing them myself allowing me to do some creative dyeing and blending.
Washed and dyed Suffolk wool. Drying outside before the next storm!
There are so many wonderful fleeces in the world, that I don't recommend trying to salvage a beautiful, but crappy fleece. HOWEVER, once in awhile, it can't be helped. I'm so excited by these Clun Forest fleeces that I want my own Cluny lambs!! I can only describe it as a bouncy, thick wool of medium length. It is a tad coarse, but when I look at it, I only see a gorgeous Aran sweater.

If you're new to wool or want more information on different types of sheep wool, I can highly recommend In Sheep's Clothing. It is a fantastic reference on wool types and I use this book ALL the time.

Okay, now I really have to run because it's raining again and I need to bring all my wool inside. Ah, spring...


  1. Good ... because we need more of Cassie's yarn here at Miss Eff's! You have more fans!! :)

  2. Fans are good! I can enable anyone's fiber addiction!