“Let man wear the fell of the lion, woman the fleece of the sheep.”
William Blake (1757-1827)
Shetland fleeces are rather both, apparently. Shetland sheep are almost miniature (in size) in comparison with other sheep breeds, like Merino and Romney. In Sheep’s Clothing puts the average Shetland fleece weight between 2.25 – 3.5 lbs. I laugh at this. I mock this number (Ha! d’you hear me? HA!). Because, either the breeders in the Shetland Isles don’t know what they’re doing, or Eugene air is damned good for Shetland sheep.
As I’ve said before, I have an unusual talent – the ability to choose a small fleece which, once shorn, triples in size. The sheep trick me. They’re sneaky, I tell ya. It all started with Shawn. The Shetland lamb’s fleece I couldn’t let go of when first I spied it. It was a lamb’s fleece – so it couldn’t be above 2 lbs, right? Ha! 4 lbs and heaven only remembers how many ounces (actually, it might have been 5…). This was the start of a very bad trend. I bought Shawn’s second fleece – still technically a lamb’s fleece, since they had to shear her 5 months after her first shearing. This second fleece weighed in just under 2lbs. I figured out that I should watch Shawn carefully – no matter how small her fleece seemed, she was lying. That extra wool was hiding somewhere.
Then, I saw Elektra. Oh, dear. It was love at first sight, I tell you. Her fleece is what the Golden Fleece dreamed of being when it grew up. Soft and crimpy and bi-coloured, I was totally in love. I was told that since she was a small ewe, her fleece shouldn’t have been much above 2 lbs. Can we guess where this is headed?
Yep. It was also above 3 lbs. Somewhere near 4, I think. I didn’t care. I decided that the more fleece there was, the merrier I’d be. I could weave my own “Garb” surcoat. I could knit a walking coat. Anything. I loved the fleece so much, I started in on it still ‘in the grease’. I managed to spin a fair amount of it (I have no idea how much) before giving into the urge to return to roving (for just a bit, I swear).
Then, on this past Saturday, my suspicions were confirmed. Annabelle, the whose fleece M and I adored at OF&F, had produced 2 lb 10 oz worth of fleece. I just sort of stared at the bag for a moment. T & T (the owners) had been certain that she wouldn’t produce more than 1 lb and half, maybe. But, it’s not their fault, I’m certain of it.
It’s my fault. Any fleece I fall in love with whilst still on the sheep is cursed. Or blessed, if you’re really fond of wool. Which I am, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE wool. It fills my hours, day and night and even makes appearances in my dreams – but, honest to g-d, how am I supposed to spin and USE all this wool? If I do the math (be afraid) I have over 10 lbs of fleeceage to process and find a purpose for. And that’s just sheep fleeces. Don’t get me started on the alpaca *twitches slightly*
Anyway. I was considering all this today as I cleaned another fleece. Letting Elektra’s fleece sit in the washing machine overnight was actually a good thing – the water ran clean when I spun the water out. To help it dry, I threw it over a sweater rack in the guest bedroom/ sewing room just before throwing Shawn’s first fleece in the machine to wash it again:
Here they both are. The gold’n’brown one is from Elektra. The inky black is from Shawn. See how much more of Shawn’s fleece there is? I’d blocked that from my memory when I pulled it out to wash today. It’s a lambswool fleece, it has to be small, I thought. I barely managed to fit it into the laundry bags and then the washing machine. That should have been a sign.
Oh, well. They make for a handsome pair. They’re both gloriously less greasy. I won’t know until they dry whether or not I got all the lanolin out. I’ll also have to wait until they’re dry to wash Shawn’s second fleece. And then Annabelle’s. And then all that alpaca I have.
Intermixed with loads of laundry, of course. Cuz, I can’t wash fleeces in the nude. And the family will whine if their clothes aren’t cleaned eventually.
Anyway. I’m definitely proud of myself for admitting that I still had these fleeces in my stash, and that something needed to be done about them. Once they’re dry, I’m going to start processing them. Elektra’s will continue to be combed (tweedy yarn!) and Shawn’s 1st will be spun from the locks, if I can manage it. If not, it’s the drum carder for it.
I’m just so talkative tonight, aren’t I? And I haven’t even given you the Peace Corps medical screening update. Today I had my “women’s doctor” visit. And all the oh-so-fun tests for STD’s added on just for the fun of it – Peace Corps is run by sadists, don’t be fooled by their mission statement.
If I don’t get into the Corps, I may seriously consider a lawsuit. Just to make them suffer, too.
After countless errands, I got Halloween duty. I must say that the children in our neighborhood are remarkably polite and unassuming. And I mean that. They were so cute, they’d take just one candy. It’s a family tradition to give trick-or-treaters a handfull of candy. It’s something we picked up in D.C. The kids looked so surprised when I told them to take a handful. So cute.
I had to give one little boy, who clearly didn’t understand Halloween quite yet, a handful. He just sorta stared at me. Then, he tried to follow me back into the house. He couldn’t have been more than 3 or 4. Too cute. His mother couldn’t stop laughing. Nor could I, I admit.
And since I had to run back and forth from the door, I decided to choose a project that could be picked up and thrown on the sofa whenever necessary. I stood staring at my SKB, indecisively for a minute, before remember that I had still yet to ply this:
Merino/ hemp yarn (that I found a couple of weeks ago when I was organizing my stash). Spun from roving my mother found at St Vincent De Paul for $1(!). I’d already used the bulk of the roving to spin and knit a chemo cap, and the rest went to working on my laceweight abilities. It’s been sitting around, waiting to be plied for… oh… 3 years? Give or take a bit.
That’s actually a bit embarassing.
Well, it’s halfway plied now. I’m trying to figure out a project. Any suggestions? Maybe wristwarmers… And, I’ve been typing enough. It’s 11:30 and I’m sleepy. Washing fleeces ain’t easy, you know ^_^