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wet, wild and wooly

I now completely understand why natural fiber yarns cost so much. It takes SO much time and energy just to process the fiber! I spent almost ALL my spare time this weekend just WASHING my two romney lamb fleeces I was so generously given. I used this method here: http://www.tengoodsheep.com/tutorial.html and it worked like a charm. I had to do it in my laundry room instead of outside, since it’s quite cold and wet here now. (Why didn’t I do it this summer? Oh yeah… Project Chicken Integration. 🙂 ) And I used lavender oil instead of the recommended patchouli or clove in the rinse cycle, since I prefer the smell. But, WOW, for someone who puts off doing laundry until her kids start complaining that they have no clean underwear, 6 huge buckets of cold water soaking and 6 hot water washes and rinses is a lot. I did manage to finish my kids’ laundry at the same time, much to their delight. Spending all that time in the laundry room doing unnecessary washing started to make me feel guilty about it. 😉

While the kids are now happily (hah!) folding their mountains of clean clothes, my beautiful lamb fleeces are happily drying on racks (surprisingly quickly after their spin cycles), dreaming fluffy dreams of being spun into yarn and turned into something cuddly. Here’s the white one (SO MUCH WHITER!):

white-romny-lamb-fleece2

And here’s the dark brown (boy, those guinea pig cages have really come in handy… guinea homes, chick brooders, and now wool processors!):

brown-romney-lamb-fleeces

It actually looks kind of gross in this photo, but the individual locks are gorgeous… and SO soft. Not scratchy at all when I rub them against my chin (my favorite test for wearable fiber).

But even with all that washing, there is still a lot vegetable matter hanging out in it. These lambs must have been rolling down hills together, or something.

romney-lamb-fleece

romney-lamb-fleece-brown

A question for those of you who have processed fiber… is it normal to have SO much embedded VM after washing? It seems like it really wants to cling to the wool, and every once in a while I even find it in commercial yarns. It’s going to be a painstaking process to card or comb it all out, that’s for sure. But I’m not really complaining. It’s quite enjoyable sinking my hands into all this lovely softness any way I can… especially now that it’s so clean and fragrant! And the results are going to be very much worth the effort:

romney-lamb-locks

So soft and lovely. And just look at that staple length! It’s going to practically spin itself.

– – –

OH! And check out the new sleeping arrangements in the chicken house… just in time for the cold, wet weather and Gloria to go into her annual feather-dumping molt. This is not a good pic, but I can only catch them all up there when it’s dark:

chickens-roosting

All three girls are quite inseparable now… my dream of backyard harmony has come true at last! The only thing that would make it more perfect is to start getting eggs again. Ah sigh… but poor Gloria.. she looks so much skinnier right now, and pretty silly with only one tail feather left:

gloria-tail-feather

But most definitely less lonely…

gloria-tail-feather3

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16 thoughts on “wet, wild and wooly

  1. It is so great to hear that this long journey of integration has had a happy ending. I hope you start getting plenty of eggs from your three girls soon.
    As far as the vm in the wool…we have never had much left after washing but ours are jacketed sheep. From what I understand (though don’t have actual experience with yet, but hopefully in the future) you can put it through a picker to take care of the vm issue. I have seen some really nice hand-made pickers on ebay sold by a small family business. Please keep us posted on how the wool processing progresses!

    • Oooh! Thank you so much! I was wondering if your jackets helped when I saw your picture. And that picker sounds great! I’ll check it out. I combed some locks out last night, and I was able to get most of it out that way, so I guess I’ll do that for now… I’m too excited to start spinning it! Do you know how to make roving?

      • From what I understand you can make rolags off hand carders but to make roving you need a drum carder But I am not an expert by any means. We are currently saving up to get a picker and a drum carder. I think then we will have what we need to go from sheep to sweater.

      • Great! Thanks! I’m sure I’ll be making rolags also when I want to spin some woolen yarn. I’m going to start by spinning worsted yarn straight from my combed locks, but a drum carder would be pretty sweet… Maybe someday. 🙂

  2. Your wool looks gorgeous. I am so pleased for Gloria. Well done and your coop is perfect.
    Remember I got coop envy from your coop? Well I have a new kitset one sitting in my backyard waiting to be put up 😄

  3. I love reading your posts. I think you are doing incredible things with your wool, cleaning…carding…and spinning, and with your chickens. I haven’t been posting much on my chicken/garden blog, but after reading your post and the comments from all our “blogging friends”, I just had a touch of heart warmth thinking about all of you. Just had to share. Love all you bloggers… 🙂

  4. gosh you are so adventurous with your own yarn préparations! Look forward to seeing the carding and spinning process

  5. A drum carder is def. a good idea if you pan to do quite a bit of fleece. And yes, I generally find quite a bit of vm in my fleece after washing, but when you card it all falls out like magic 🙂 You will have a little pile of dirt and bits when you comb, so I would put an old towel on your lap and floor. 🙂

    • Thanks for the advice! I’m glad to hear this is just part of the process. If only Drum Carders weren’t so expensive. Do you comb yours before or after? Right now I’m just separating the locks, then using a dog comb with 2 types of times, and it seems to be working OK, if a little slowly. (and yes… lots of bits of VM flying everywhere 😉 But I did some trial spinning with it last night, and was pretty happy with the results. I’ll just have to comb and spin as I go until I can afford fancier equipment. 😉

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