June 25th Fleece Sorting

 

Today we looked at fleece sorting, with Val, one of our long standing members, giving us tips and advice.
The most important thing to remember is to never buy a fleece without unrolling it and to test the staple (average) length making sure that it doesn’t snap when pulled. Ask yourself why are you buying it, and ideally, have an end product in mind. I must admit that I don’t always follow that advice!
Val began by unrolling a Blue Faced Leicester crossed with a Suffolk and was trying to arrange it with the neck at the top and the feet spread out ending with the tail, but it ended up being too spread out with no clearly defined areas, so she roughly separated that.
The next fleece was a smaller Hebridean which had been correctly rolled with a twisted neck piece, the neck being the best end.
The back is sometimes weather worn and a bit felted, so that was separated from the sides. Every part of the fleece can be used, the back for sampling, the dirty bits for compost.
Val uses lukewarm water, with a squirt of washing up liquid, for washing fleece which she soaks for a day or overnight. She rinses the fleece, hangs it up to dry and tips the water over the garden. She advises putting it back into the same bag that it came from, ideally a cotton bag so the wool doesn’t sweat.
Val does a lot of sampling and showed us her book of blended rolags rolled up like little snails which were very attractive.
Later on Janet demonstrated fleece blending on her drum carder:
The Hebridean and ‘mystery’ white fleece blended on the drum carder, spun, plied and skeined
The ‘humbug’ rolag taken off the drum carder with knitting needles, spun and crocheted as a single
The new Guild WIngham drum carder is available to use at Croft meetings.  Please let Sylvia know in advance if you would like to use it:  secretary@northcheshireswd.co.uk
words and pictures:
Liz Carrington and Janet Gleave