Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Exploded Sheep.

At the moment, the winter garden is feeling quite sheepy - with Rhönschaf sheep fleeces hanging out to air, dry out completely and be sorted (and probably partly combed).

Rhönschaf is a sturdy, rather large sheep with white, longish wool that has a nicely defined, wavy crimp. I have four fleeces; one of them will be put on hold for a workshop on historical wool preparation and spinning, and the rest of them...

Closeup of one of the fleeces
The fleeces are very good quality, with little to very little dirt in them; most of that falls out when combing the fibres. The sheep come from a good, sheep-friendly home and spent most of their time outside. The wool is not felted and very easy to comb, even without prior teasing or beating to loosen up the fibres; there's a pleasant amount of lanolin in it, but not too much.

The wool, when combed in the grease, has a chamois or light eggshell colour; it washes up into a clean white with water and maybe a smidgen of soap.

One lock after rinsing.

If you now feel the strong need to get your hands on some of that wool, you have several possibilities: I will sell you wool prepared into these lovely nests of hand-combed top:

Hand-combed top, in the grease, for spinning worsted yarn.

... which is ideal for worsted yarn - smooth, thin, strong yarns for your weaving or sewing needs.

If you have never worked with hand-combed top before, let me tell you: It will be much more expensive than industrial preparations, because we're talking about serious time investment here* - but it's also vastly different from industrial preparations. The short fibres are removed, there's still all the lanolin in,  there are no felted bits due to washing, and since I started working with those historical preparations, I don't like to touch the modern industrial stuff anymore.

If you prefer to do your prepping yourself, you can either get raw wool from me to use your own equipment. Or come to my stall at Tannenberg, where I will have a nice combing station, and you can use my combs to prepare wool for yourself.

* and you all know how I feel about fair pricing in crafts, right?

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