Well, I’m still figuring that one out myself.
The fleece, in question, is from a Columbia sheep named Sierra who lives on a small farm about a 45 minute drive away from where I live. We’re friends with the farmers (I’ve even helped out at their farm and got to spend time with them and their lovely sheep, and I hope to get back out there again before it gets too cold …), and I asked them what they did with the fleeces that their sheep produce.
When their shearers come, once every year, they take the fleeces with them. They sell the fleeces to wool brokers, and that absorbs the cost of them shearing the sheep for our friends. Putting that together with some other things that I already knew about the wool industry in America, I was a tad bit sad.
After the shearers sell the wool to the brokers, the wool is graded, and then the fleeces of these sweet, curious, and organically-raised sheep fleeces are mixed with other fleeces that have the same, or very close to the same, micron count (and aren’t raised with the same care), and then sold to mills (most of which are in China, sadly), or other producers labeled as generic “wool.”
I haven’t finished the process of cleaning this fleece yet, but in the time that I’ve spent handling it so far, I can tell that this wool is amazing. It has even crimp, a certain spongy hand, and wow! there is almost too much of it!
This is definitely a process. I just finished the second wash, and I don’t think I’m going to get this whole thing done anytime soon.
Here is the first wash and rinse, in photos. NOTE: If you don’t get heart palpitations every time you see wool, you don’t need to scroll through all the pictures. 🙂
I can’t wait until this is done! Now, I have to find our carders …
These next weeks are going to be really busy. A deadline on a pattern in collaboration with an amazing indie dyer was unexpectedly bumped up two months. So, I’m accelterating in the knitting, pattern writing, and layout. Let’s hope my tech-editor will have plenty of time to fix all of my errors! I think she will, though …
But I digress. Again