Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Spinning Border Leicester Fleece

Border Leicester sheep are a long wool breed, with plenty of crimp in their fleece. These are skeins of the finished handspun yarn... lots of luster and very strong. Below is a series of the many steps needed to bring it to this state.

First ... all  vegetable matter such as hay, grass, small sticks and various other things that sheep may get into are picked out... then it is washed in hot soapy water after a good long soak..  that may happen several times to remove all the dirt.  It all depends how much lanolin you want to have remain in the fleece when you are done as to how hot the water should be. I do use quite hot water but I don't mind some lanolin left , as it helps the wool spin easier, I find.

here shows the pile of dry fleece and a lofty cloud of teased fleece ready to be carded. Teasing makes it easier to go through the drum carder. and since I had so much fleece I decided not to use the hand cards this time.

This shows teased wool going into the carder, some already on the drum and finished batts to the right.

the batts were mounting up... I usually put my carded batts through the drum carder 2-3 times... it lines up the fibres even more nicely and the wool draws out smoother when spinning

the cloth bag sitting on the floor is the teased fluffy fleece ready to go  into the carder

It started to feel like a woolen mill in my small studio

more was stacked in my sewing room... these have all been carded twice.

I pulled the batts apart lengthwise and drafted them into long thin rolls to make the spinning go smoother.. and decided to spin them semi-worsted 

finally...  spinning in progress... yay.. this is what I've been waiting for!!!!!
This is an Ashford Traditional spinning wheel made in New Zealand... it has 3 spinning ratios to accommodate spinning fine, medium and thick yarn

much spinning and many bobbins are filled up

When it was nice I just picked up my wheel and fleece and sat out on the back deck to spin.. loved spinning outside with the birds singing and the dogs sniffing for things and John working away over  to the end of the deck building the woodshed. 

felt so happy to have filled all these up

This was the last bobbin I filled before I had to start plying the wool... this is single ply. You can see the 3 different size ratios on the flyer just to the left hand side.. I'm spinning on the middle one.

The single ply bobbins are held on the Lazy Kate with a little rod. I will be making 2-ply yarn so only need 2 bobbins on the Kate.

First full bobbin of 2-ply yarn ... Yay...
if you look close you can see two plys twisting around each other

Here are a few all skeined up... bobbins are empty now

 Then the skeins are washed in hot soapy water again. 

 Then rinsed... remember to rinse in the same temperature water so as not to felt your wool.
... the skeins were then placed into the washing machine on "spin only" cycle, to spin them out as dry as possible. 

Since this was now a colder day in November by the time I did the washing of the skeins,  I hung them on 2 broom sticks between 2 chairs in the same room as the woodstove... it dries pretty quickly but I let it hang there for a couple days as I did not want to put it away damp. It was a pleasure to look at it and realize all the steps it took to go from raw fleece to finished yarn. I believe there was about 25 skeins there... each one was a little over 2 oz. 

I just Love it!!!

All Finished...

Now to knit some socks... and possibly a sweater!!

This is how I enjoy winter!