Sunday, May 24, 2020

About All That Fleece ...

Hi, I'm a spinner, and I have a fleece problem.

Now, to be fair, my problem isn't as bad as some other spinners. But like them, I have a problem with acquiring fleeces that I fall in love with, bringing them home, and then letting them sit. With the extra time I have on my hands these days, and with the weather nice enough to take fiber prep outside, I thought it was high time I start tackling the fleeces in my stash.

The first one was the Rambouillet you saw the beginning of last week. It was one of two fleeces I split with another spinner back in 2012, and it was the easiest to start with because it had been cleaned and carded at a mill. I'd even split up the roving into manageable amounts of about 2 oz. I did not have a ton of extra spinning time this week, but I've managed to spin up one of those 2 oz. balls and gotten started on a second (I believe I have a total of 11 balls).

You can tell how much fluffier woolen-spun singles are by how much of that first bobbin is filled up -- for comparison, if I'd been spinning my usual worsted singles or yarn, I'd fill up about that much of the bobbin with about 4 oz. of fiber. I do feel that as I get more used to this fiber, my singles are becoming a bit more consistent overall, though they're still a bit lumpy-bumpy. I plan to spin up all the singles and then ply, mixing up singles spun at the beginning, middle, and end of the fleece so that the unevenness more or less evens out. I'm planning a three ply, as that is likely to be the most consistent, and I'm hopeful that I will have enough for a sweater, perhaps with some dyed handspun added in for stripes or colorwork if needed.

While this one fleece should keep me busy for a while, I also have some other fleeces that are clean but in need of processing before they can be spun. The one I've been most anxious to get to is Ollie the yearling Romney/Romeldale cross that I brought home from Maryland Sheep and Wool in 2018. Unlike the other fleeces, his I actually washed right away (I think within the month of May that year) and sampled. I ultimately determined that the short-ish staple length of the fleece meant that carding was likely to be the easiest way to process it, so yesterday, when the weather was lovely and Rainbow was willing, I took the fleece and my drum carder out to the porch and we carded up three fluffy batts.

It took three passes through the drum carder to get them to this point, but I know that work will be well worth it. If you're interested, I posted a short video of Rainbow doing the first pass on one of the batts on my Instagram account. There is still quite a lot of fleece to be carded at this point, but I think if I continue to make batts as I'm spinning the Rambouillet, it should be good motivation to get both things done. Wouldn't it be something if I ended the year having spun up most (if not all) of my fleece?


  1. Spinning seems so technical! I don't know how anyone does it! But your pictures look so soft and fluffy and I want to reach through my screen and pet all of the fleece! :)

  2. It is so fun to read your spinning posts. I think I might add exploring spinning to my retirement bucket list. Did you start with a hand spinner or a wheel?

  3. This is incredible. I'm so impressed with your pandemic successes, Sarah! I had one alpaca fleece that was so daunting to card I ended up giving it away to a friend who's a Waldorf teacher. I spent years looking at it guiltily...(so you see where I'm coming from!). What a satisfying stash you'll have to work from!

  4. I was thinking that the pandemic may have been good for your spinning, but I can't quite bring myself to say that. Instead, I'll also agree with your great pandemic successes and hope you and Rainbow keep going!

  5. Beautiful spinning, Sarah! (I have some fleeces that I should get doing *something* with! They are washed even! There just are not enough hours in the day!)