This spring I purchased a 10lb lamb fleece from a fellow guild member named Ann. Ann raises a small flock of Romneys on a farm which is 11.5 miles — 18.4 km (as the crow flies) from my place. Here’s an up-close look at what a lamb’s fleece looks like before it’s washed/scoured. Double click on the photo and you will get a larger view.
You can see it is full of vegetation — bits of grass and seeds; lanolin — the lovely oily stuff that makes your hands really soft; suint — the dried sweat from the sheep; and other surprises like dead bugs and clumps of sheep dung.
After you scour it — that’s the word we fibre folk use when we talk about washing wool — it looks totally different. To scour means that you wash it in really hot water with soap to clean it of all the oils and dirt — allowing easy fibre processing and, if you choose to dye it, to allow the dye to adhere to the fibre.
Here is what washed fibre looks like. This small batch is hanging on my back fence. I tilted the wire fencing to make a shelf — clever of me eh? It helped the fibre dry quickly because the warm air could circulate all around it.
Once it was dry, I brought it into the house and got it ready for spinning. I decided to use my wool combs so I could easily and quickly remove the final bits of vegetation that were still in the locks. Here’s what the combed nests look like.
Aren’t they heavenly? Doesn’t that just make you want to spin? I was so happy with this fibre. It is soft, not super soft, but soft with a springyness to it which made a lovely yarn with some give. I will post photos of the yarn I made next time around. This batch of cleaned fibre was about 3lbs of the fibre. You can see you can get a lot of yarn from a 10lb fleece.
Thanks Ann and your lovely lambs fleece.