Category Archives: romney sheep

Local fibre from Acacia Acres

At the Aldergrove Country Fair this July I met a sheep producer who runs Acacia Acres (sorry, no website yet) in south Langley. I knew her from the fleece sale last year as she and her fleeces cleaned up on most of the awards that year.  We got talking about fibre and knitting and such and over a few meetings we have struck up a deal where I make her and her family knitted items from her fibre, and she pays me for my work in her lovely fibre.  I get all the benefits of having sheep and lovely fibre, without having to raise the animals myself and neither of us has to fork out any cash.
So I came home from Acacia Acres with 10 pounds of washed fibre and 2 pounds of an assortment of unwashed fibres from 4 different sheep.  In exchange for this fibre I am going to make 6 pairs of 1/2 mitts and 3 x 3 inch knitted samples from the four different fleeces.
As I didn’t have to waste any time washing fibre, I got right to work as soon as I got home.  The wool in this picture is from the fleece of a very happy romney sheep called Ashley. Ashley’s fleece won the Grand Champion prize at the Lower Mainland Sheep Producers Association annual fleece sale this past September 22nd. The wool in this picture is from Ashley’s fleece from last year. Just as lovely, soft and wonderfully grey.  Here it is hand carded into rolags.  The staple on this fibre is about 3 inches long on average, so it’s a dream to hand card.  
What you are looking at is 86 g (3 ounces) and 144 m (165 yards) of fingering/sport weight yarn. Look at that steely grey colour and sheen on the yarn.  That’s what I love so much about romney, the sheen. 

From that skein I made these 1/2 mitts — with slightly less than an ounce left.  What’s left in is the ball on the right. The mitts are made on 3mm needles and 44 stitches. They are medium to large size for they are intended for a young man.  

In addition to five pounds of Ashely’s fleece,  I also got five pounds of washed fleece from Ebony. Ebony is a white romney and such a lovely white she is. Here is a close-up of a skein of double-ply Ebony. I drum carded the fibre this time.

It is such a luxury to get washed fibre to work with. Even though you still have to do the fibre preparation, at least I didn’t have to spend time washing up this volume of fibre.

This is another large skein of fingering/sport weight yarn. This one ended up being 100 grams (3.5 ounces) and 155 m (168 yds) of fibre. Here it is on the niddy-noddy.

This weekend I spent time exploring this fibre. I had already made two large fingering/sport weight skeins of yarn, so I was ready to try other yarns. Below are two skeins: the white one is a three-ply of the Ebony (71 g/ 2.5 oz and 61m/67yds). I would call this one a worsted weight yarn. The grey skein is a 50/50 blend of Ashely and Ebony, you can see how much lighter the grey is. To thoroughly blend it I drum carded it. I put very little twist into the singles and made them much thicker than the previous yarns. The result:  a light, lofty yarn.(107 g/3.75 oz and 103m/112 yds)

 Here is a photo of the whole family. Ashely, Ebony and the blend.

Now that I know how the wool will behave when being made into yarn, I am going to spend some time dyeing and blending the various colours.  It is so much fun to have this much wonderful fibre to play with.

Thanks Jacqueline and Linda!

Local Romney from Ann

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.