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This Yarn Is Delicious!

Closeup rambo/suri blend laceweight handspun yarn

I spun this 2 ply out of rambouillet blended with baby suri alpaca on hand cards. It turned out so soft it doesn’t even feel like wool!

Baby suri alpaca

Rambouillet Fleece

suri/rambo blended on hand cards

Also the colour is lovely – chocolate and tan with a bit of a shine! It has a really rich look and I love it.

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I’m working on a pair of gloves for winter…I’ll keep you updated 🙂

Have a great day!

If you might be interested in purchasing my handspun yarn, please visit handspunyarn.wordpress.com

A Very Bright Baby Blankie!

Samantha's Blankie/1060 metres

It’s a pattern from Wooly Thouhts, available on Ravelry. Best of all, it’s based on math and really easy to improvise as you go, once you get the hang of it 🙂

I used some of the shetland lamb, dyed it in a multitude of colours. I use the Dharma Trading Co. acid dyes and they are excellent! I blended the dyed locks on hand cards and added a pinch of targhee cross to each rolag – each rolag was split in half so when spun, the plies pretty much lined up and created the blending of one colour to another. In total, 1060 metres of handspun two ply went into this blanket.

handspun from handdyed shetland lambswool

It’s Fleece Season!!

Oh yes, happy day!

It may still be snowing outside but I still love spring – I usually stock up on my fleeces and this year I’m pretty pleased with what I was able to find 🙂 (lol, to be honest, I have always been pleased – I just love fleece)

There is the Romney fleece – purchased from a seller on Ravelry.

Romney fleece

It was very clean to begin with, hardly any vm.

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I separated the locks and laid them in a basket.

I really like taking the extra time to do this – the results are excellent and the fleece cleans very easily. I place these locks in a wire waste basket from the dollar store and then this basket is placed in a large pot of simmering water on the stove. I keep an eye on water temperature with a candy thermometer. I do the same with the rinse water and I have a second basket so I can keep one washing at all times. The going is a little slow because I don’t overcrowd my baskets but it’s easy and the results are excellent!

Romney all washed up

And this is the whole fleece, after washing.

Romney fleece/washed

The next fleece is a shetland lamb fleece – really nice!

Shetland lamb

Charlie really loves fleece!
(our dog really loves this fleece!)

I purchased this from a little etsy shop.

It is a beautiful fleece with minimal vm, well skirted and soft. Count me as a happy spinner 🙂

Shetland, ready to wash

Washed shetland lamb fleece

I found some lovely suri alpaca – baby suri, just a little so I could try it…lol, I fell in love…

Baby suri alpaca

I ended up blending the suri with a little of the shetland lamb and have not yet plied the singles.

Happy spring 🙂

Sidetracked, Again (or is that always?)

Ok, I admit it, I just might have a BIT of an issue with sticking to one thing, lol. It’s like some kind of ‘ooooooh shiny, soooooo pretty’ disease. I have so many projects on the go that it’s truly ridiculous.

There is the sweater I am knitting out of handspun light fingering weight yarns, in stripes. The white is cormo/merino hand combed and blended with very fine alpaca, two ply. The coloured yarn is a hand carded silk/wool blend, 2 ply.

the yarn

close up

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The yarn I really did finish (yay, one for me, save the part where there are half a bobbin of singles waiting to be plied into yarn, should I get around to finishing the other ply), created from hand processed, hand combed cormo/fdt fleece from mmfwool….

'dilbert' cormo/fdt 2 ply lace weight

'dilbert' wool cormo/fdt 2 ply lace

So far I have two skeins of this, around 700 metres, I’d guess. And I would be guessing, lol, since I have yet to count the strands 🙂

The ‘ooh shiny’ which I just started yesterday. Days off work are fantastic!

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Hand dyed silk, cormo/merino fleece and super-soft-camel fluff…it is divine….

blending for 'moss'

And, certainly not last, simply last for today – some super soft gloves I’m working on, created with handspun angora bunny/hand dyed silk blended yarn.

glove project

the pink bunny wool (angora/silk)

Thankfully winter is a few months away!

The ‘RED’ Has Turned Out Very Well!

I’d love to say ‘good morning’ but it’s afternoon, evening really… so happy day, my friends 🙂

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I’ve been keeping busy with work and fabulous fiber. I managed to ply the red yarn and it came out to 380 meters of lovely lace or light weight fingering, I’d say. I like my socks on the thin side, comfy and perfect for normal wear in normal shoes. I’ll most likely put it in my shop but perhaps not for long, depending on how long I can resist it…

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I’ve also spent some time working with the beautiful cormo/fdt cross fleece purchased from mmfwool on ebay…

soft! cormo/fdt

It’s taking two washes to get the lanolin out, or mostly out, as the case may be. Really lovely fleece with a variety of greys in it starting with the lightest pearl gray and going to almost black in places! It combs as nicely as I suspected it would, too. Take a peek at this bit of hand pulled roving…

cormo/fdt roving - hand combed

It’s SO very satisfying, turning a raw fleece into clouds of fiber-y goodness.

Have a fantastic night 🙂

Something Red

Hello!

I barely made it through my day at work, lol – could not wait to get home and get back to the gray fleece again, as I’m quite sure you all understand 🙂

cormo/fdt wool SOFT

What a beauty it is.

All dry and perfect!

Check out that little washed bit, all separated into locks and dried now…it may well be worth washing this baby slowly because the locks couldn’t have come out more perfect, in my opinion….

I couldn’t help but spin a small sample; it’s virtually irresistible fiber.  I tried spinning from the lock and from hand carded rolags – from the lock wins hands down because the fiber is so fine.  Combing would be perfection, something I have to try and will certainly show once I do 🙂

cormo/fdt wool SOFT

I’ve been working through some bits of interesting fiber and have spun another skein of laceweight yarn.  This one is “Something Red”, created by blending the lovely white cormo/merino with hand dyed blue/violet silk and a wine red shade of predyed superwash merino.  I blend by sight and handcard my rolags.

superwash merino/cormo x merino/silk

superwash merino/cormo x merino/silk

Pictures coming soon of the actual plied yarn…I’ve got to skein and wash it first and we all know I’m probably lost in the land of grey fleece tonight 🙂  Have an excellent day!

What Could Be More Fun Than A Fresh New Fleece?!

I’m a little behind, here, and haven’t shown what I’ve been up to lately!  My apologies, my friends!  Work and family and (lets face it!) spinning have been getting in the way…

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This is a beautiful fleece I purchased from mmfwool. It’s a cormo/merino cross and just awesome to work with – lovey crimp and length and so very, very soft.

Here’s how it looks cleaned up…(it only took one wash, two rinses);

The clean white cormo/merino cross - mmfwool

And how it came out after combing…

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cormo/merino cross/mmfwool

I’ve also been blending – I treated myself to some excellent bits of fiber recently…

luxury fibers - yak,camel, camel, cashmere, llama/cashmere, bombyx silk

I’ve made some really soft yarns in all shades of natural…

luxury blends - cashmere/wool, camel/woo/silk/cashmere, camel/wool, camel/wool/llama/silk,

luxury blends continued - camel/yak/wool, llama/cashmere/silk/wool/yak

I’ve just received another beautiful fleece, a grey cormo cross which is actually even MORE beautiful and super fine.

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cormo cross -  mmfwool - soft and fine!

I’m washing this more carefully than I’ve ever washed a fleece — by the handfull almost, in a wire basket in a LOT of water, simmering on the stove for 20 minutes then two rinses in super hot tap water with some boiling water mixed in. Absolutely NO agitation.

The first batch came out excellently!

A little clean wool

A dilbert lock - mmfwool - cormo cross

I’m surrounded in fleecy goodness! If you are interested, please visit my little handspun yarn shop.  Have an excellent day!

The Beautiful Birthday Wool And Other Fun Stuff

Good Morning!

Yes, again, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted 🙂 It feels like spring – a beautiful beautiful day in Ontario. Time to sort, clean and catch up…

A couple of weeks ago I had another birthday and wanted to treat myself to something special. I decided to make some pretty yarn inspired by amethyst…a little bit of sparkle (silk from india), a little bit of shine and bold bright colour (handdyed longwool) and a fair share of beautiful, bouncy softness (gorgeous handdyed cormo/merino cross recently purchased from mmfwool on ebay – I *highly* recommend it).

In the dye pot – the wools and some wilton’s violet icing colour….

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I blended the fibres with hand cards and, voila!

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The plan is to knit ‘Sabbatical’ by Connie Chang Chinchio…it should be awesome!

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The wool from mmfwool is absolutely wonderful to work with…nice crimp, beautiful feel, lovely length….

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The kids have been enjoying march break!

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I’ve been working on some other wools as well…

black/brown suffolk mix – this is a three ply worsted/dk weight which will eventually become a sweater…
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Finished pictures coming soon for this and some lovely wool/silk mix yarn which I’m just in the middle of finishing up! Have a fantastic day 🙂

Washing The Alpaca Fleece

Good Morning 🙂

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I’ve been working on cleaning the alpaca fleece(s) that I have from last fall, while trying to conserve water and energy at the same time.  It’s wonderful to process my own fiber but the point begins to get a little lost if I use too many resources to do it with!  My general method, last year, was to take out any burrs and then use a few (usually three) washes with very hot water and as many rinses in hot water as were required to get the fleece very very white.  I would then have to comb the locks for debris and vegetable matter, anyway, because there is a lot of that that will not come out in a wash.

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I’ve now realized that was overkill.  Through experimenting, I’ve found that if I comb out the tips of the locks (really handfuls of locks) VERY well *before* washing, I can save a lot of time, water and electricity!  Really, the biggest issue with alpaca is the dust and vm.  If you can eliminate a great deal of that before washing you will be able to use the wash water for longer and wash each ‘bundle’ of alpaca fewer times.  Less vm also means less rinsing and less rinse water used.  Lower temps mean eliminating the necessity of boiling water, to begin with.  I DO boil water to bring the wash temperature back up if it is losing heat quickly outside.

This is the ‘comb’ I use to comb out the upper section of each lock.  I like to hold the locks by the cut end and keep that together, ideally.  It helps later to be able to see the seperate locks.  It’s actually a dog rake – you can find it in any pet store.

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The set up – I have two bins, one for washing, one for rinsing.  Both are large storage bins which are very common.  I have two wire waste baskets from the dollar store which work wonderfully as fleece baskets for washing, rinsing and ‘fishing’ out the clean fleece from the water.  Then there is the soap – original blue dawn dish detergent, the kind WITHOUT enzymes.  You don’t want enzymes as, if any at all is left in the wool, they will eat the fiber over time.  Nothing sadder than going back to a clean fleece and finding it weak and deteriorated.  I’ve not experienced this myself but have heard it can happen.  I keep a couple wooden spoons to manipulate the fleece in the water and also a towel to roll and squeeze the water out of the washed and rinsed fleece bundles.  My sweater drying racks work excellently as fleece drying racks.

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So, I start with a handful of unwashed fleece – just pulling off some at the edge of the blanket, enough to fill my hand and work with comfortably.

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An example of what most of the fleece looks like (what you see on top is the nicest part!)

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The dog rake works best if I loosen the tips first and then comb out the lock from the centre to the tip – a lot like dealing with badly tangled hair, you don’t want to pull hard enough to break or damage fiber, or hard enough to badly mangle the lock – just work slowly and be gentle.

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The really messy lock I showed above, once combed…Wearing old clothes is a great idea because you WILL be covered in dust and dirt and vegetable matter. A surprising amount comes out with just this combing.

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Once I’ve combed out enough to work with without rushing through the process to keep up with myself, I fill the wash bin with hot tap water and then add a generous bit of Dawn dishsoap.

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I have heard that alpaca felts but have not had any problems with that at all.  I totally swish it around, push it back under the water as needed.  I’m always much more careful with wool.  Because I haven’t had trouble with felting, I now put the fleece in by itself instead of using the wire baskets to hold it (a la mesh to keep locks in order).

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I’ve found that a 25 minute soak is a very good amount of time, with a few swishes.  I am able to use the one tub of water for three or four batches of fleece.  The rinse bin is smaller (but doesn’t need to be, that’s what I had) and I rinse for a few minutes, maybe ten, in hot water.

As you can see, the alpaca is very clean and has only had the combing, one wash and this (first and only) rinse.

I pull it all out of the rinse water and roll it in a towel.  The towel hangs on the line in between uses and that way can be reused all day long (if I want to clean fleece all day long).

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I end up with this lovely cloud of fiber – really a collection of locks which are still easy to locate and work with.  One strange thing (I’m always amazed) is how nicely the flattened out, wet fiber fluffs right back up again with drying.

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By the end of the day, I had a large bin of clean alpaca…

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And still this much left in the to-be-washed bin…

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It’s seemingly endless 🙂

Back To My Spinning Wheel…

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I’m hoping to spin enough 2 ply yarn for a light weight sweater 🙂 It feels good to be working with fibre and using my wheel again, after so many months of focusing on other things!

Since finances SUCK this year for us, I’m using mostly stash yarns and fibre in all my projects. I am out of sweater-lots of wool so if I want to knit anything bigger than socks I will have to spin first!

I have lots of bits of superwash merino in different colours and am going to combine them to spin up some yarn for knitting. It means combining colours and is a surprise every time. I made this a couple days ago – it’s a mixture of three or four blue shades, 2 ply, approximately 260 metres. I’m thinking socks for the baby boy, or a little sweater, perhaps 🙂

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Another project I’m working my way through is combing through the leftovers from last years fleeces. I have about a pillowcase full of jacob wool and another partial case full of rambouillet. Some of it is ‘second combings’ since I HATE throwing out anything and there is a lot of saveable wool left over from combing in the first place.

Happy Spinning!

A Little Shetland Lace Cardigan

Using my handspun!

Remember the shetland fleece I bought earlier this year?
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I washed it, combed it – seperated the down coat from the coarse outer coat, and spun the down into a nice, lofty two ply.

handspun shetland

I wanted a little sweater – it’s really soft and I’m not overly sensitive to wool anyways. The Sylph Cardigan by Robin Melanson (Interweave Knits) was perfect. Or at least close to perfect! I downsized it, one size. I also continued the lace pattern throughout and knitted on the neckband rather than sewing it on later. I reshaped the sleeves a bit when downsizing. I like them well fitted.

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I love how it turned out!

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Combing Wool

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I decided to do this post to try and show ‘how’ I comb my wool with my diy combs. I find it’s easier to comb sideways. It keeps my fibre on the combs and it seems to do a nice job too!

After a little comb with my dog rake, I place a bunch of locks onto the comb, so the tips are farthest from the tines. I then comb them off, onto the moving comb.

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Since I HATE waste, I save all these bits in another pillowcase. I suppose I could use them in lots of ways…carding (if I ever try that), felting, needle felting, stuffing…

Then I comb back onto the stationary comb…

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I usually give the last bits a bit of a pull…to get as much of the fibre as possible…

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You can continue this ‘off, on’ as many times as you like. I usually just do two passes (one off, one on). The more passes, the more perfect the fibre becomes but the more waste as well. It depends what you like.

Next, I pull off the combed top, as evenly as possible. I don’t have a diz and frankly, am not planning on getting one. I have no trouble pulling off the top and then drafting it out evenly to spin.

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Give it a little twist and move my hand up to the comb again…

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When I’ve pulled all I can from the comb, the rest goes into the waste bag…

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The finished combed top….

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I’m spinning some of this right now, for lace…

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I hope this post was at least a little helpful 🙂 Have a great day!

Sweet!

I’ve recieved the free fleece from the local farm…I’m buried in sheepy goodness!

First – the black (two sheep fleeces I’m told)

As it came…
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Messy, huh?
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But it cleans up nice!
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I’m only half way through it…
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A little I combed with my wool combs…
mystery fleece-combed

And then, there’s the white…

As I recieved it…
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I soaked it in cold water…
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Washed it in hot, hot water (boiling mixed with a little hot tap) once or twice. I’m finding smaller amounts per wash with a lot of love (teasing apart the tip and picking through) is the best bet with this but it’s worth it in the end!

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mystery white fleece - combed top

Awesome!

Very cool day in wool-land!

I’ve started to knit with my charcoal shetland…

handspun shetland

It’s a ‘sylph’-ish cardigan…or at least that’s what I’m going for…

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I had to downsize it, one size, and am thinking about leaving the open pattern throughout rather than changing it to the closed version halfway, as the pattern is written. I think it shows off the shetland nicely AND the mods are necessary if I hope to have enough wool!

Since I’m new at this, I didn’t realize how much weight is lost in the cleaning and processing of the fleece. I have approximately equal amounts of the outer coat (silvery gray) and the inner coat (the chocolate brown/gray that I’m using for this sweater).

My rambouillet fleece arrived today! From Knit-Knackers in Ottawa, Ontario – purchased from ebay but also available directly from the store and sold by the pound, for anyone who is interested. 🙂 It’s so soft and fine, really really fine. 17 to 21 microns. I’m almost afraid of it, lol.

It’s soaking already, in a cold water soak.

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rambouillet

And – the 3rd fantastic part of today – I’ve found (or been found by, lol) a local lady who raises sheep and she’s going to drop off three fleeces on the weekend, for FREE. Yay for free things! Very cool and she says next spring I should get back in touch again. LOVE the idea of having local fleeces and saving money even IF they are more work! She’s shearing tomorrow and I’m excited. 🙂

Washing Wool

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I washed/am washing the shetland fleece indoors since it’s not exactly balmy outside this week in ontario.

I began with soaking the fleece, in parts, in tubs in cold water – changing the water as it dirtied and warmed. I’ve still got a little in a cold bath that started soaking the first day. I think extra days make it easier to clean.

Next, I used this method of hot water wash. My soap is a presidents choice aromatherapy dishsoap – it smells like lavender.

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The wastbasket was a stroke of genius – we found it at the second hand store for 75 cents! It works as the perfect colander. I used an old tupperware bowl for the wash, the metal bowl for a drain to set the basket in.

Each batch got two soapy soaks and two or three rinses in nearly boiling water. In the interest of saving water I use the last rinse as the first soapy soak for the next batch (and make the last rinse very quick to prevent significant cooling). I used a couple of towels and rolled each batch, squeezing out most of the water and laid them out on my sweater drying rack (in the livingroom).

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As the fleece dried, I seperated it into locks…

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By starting at the tips, it was pretty easy to seperate. Dirty tips aren’t so bad, lol….they help the fleece stay together and (mine) combed out easily later.

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I’ve still got a third of a fleece to do…

I’ll be the lady in the kitchen 🙂

It’s Here!

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I picked up my fleece this morning at the post office. Good thing too…now it looks like it’s going to pour rain today! It came in a pretty small box, it’s amazing how well they vacuum packed it.

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About 4.5 pounds of raw charcoal/black shetland fleece from Devine West Ranch in New Brunswick, Canada.

Couldn’t help it – had to see! – so I’ve let it stretch a little in a smallish bin in the living room until the kids get home for lunch. I want to let them share in this whole thing – it’s a real learning experience for all of us and I’ve always been craft mama with them 🙂

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It fluffed right up and it’s not nearly fully ‘fluffed’…

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I can see some finer fleece as well as some coarser and there seems to be a variety of browns/blacks within the fleece. I’ll be able to say more once I stretch it out (planning to use an old sheet for that!) and have a better look. Doesn’t look like too much hay or other fun stuff in there but again, I need a better look.

I’m all excited and intimidated at the same time, lol! Wish me luck 🙂

SO Excited!!!

I’m getting a raw shetland fleece!!

And! The news is good…saw my surgeon today and the tests came back negative after my operation. Happy Dance time! I’m walking on clouds today. Ah, and the healing is going perfectly well 🙂

A belated birthday present – the fleece is just over 4 pounds, from a farm in New Brunswick, my very first ebay purchase ever, my first fleece ever.

I totally can’t wait. It’s surprising I’m this excited over dirty sheep, but I really, really am 🙂 It’s listed as ‘charcoal’ so I’m not sure I could dye any – if I felt like trying out dying. Doesn’t matter actually…its the adventure I’m after.

Oh yes, I finished the camp shirt…
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Still not thrilled with the sleeves but the handspun worked really well and it’s a comfy sweater to wear.

Not sure, with the shetland, if I will make something fine like that or maybe a really nice outerwear cardigan…decisions for later!

I’m hoping it’s a ‘good’ fleece (as if I would know!) and the final product seems secondary to the learning curve, which I truly enjoy when I’m learning a new craft. I’m reading everything I can find about methods of processing and spinning. I’m leaning toward going slowly with the cleaning, in small batches, and probably trying to keep the locks nice and spin from those since I don’t have carders. I’m pretty sure I can flick card with the dog brushes I have. LOL…again, guessing – I’ve never actually ‘carded’ anything but the flick carders I’ve seen look exactly like dog brushes with longer handles.

I expect, on the outside, I’ll get the fleece in about three weeks. You see, this way, I’ll be pleasantly surprised, hopefully!

I’m off to work on my blanket…

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