Sunday, January 26, 2014
A few weeks ago I visited a farm just down the road from my friend's house. It is exciting to visit a new farm, I especially enjoy viewing the set up, fences, feeder, and other infrastructure. Believe it or not, farmer's don't always talk about the weather (though I think it was mentioned). More often we talk about fencing and water management (the old hedging and ditching).
My main motivation for going there was to learn about keeping different heritage sheep. This farm keeps Icelandic sheep, purebred registered. My goal is to keep a small heritage breed of sheep but what kind and whether or not I want to keep mine registered or pure bloodlines, is yet to be decided. I figure the best way to learn is to visit farms and ask questions.
Of course, I feel bad pestering a farmer with questions, so I felt obligated to buy some fleece to make it worth her time. I got a ram's fleece from the fellow (shown above) called Mr Brown. I love the colour, and believe it or not, the smell is very mild and well, pleasantly sheepy.
There was minimal vegi matter in the wool, but a lot more grease than I'm use to in an Icelandic. I scoured it three times (once is normally enough to get the grease out as I'm technically scouring it which involves achieving a specific temperature, not just washing) and there was still a significant amount of grease left in the wool. But no dirt, so I decided to go with it and spin in the grease. If I leave the grease in after spinning, then the fabric will be semi water repellent.
I tried several different samples. The yarn on the bottom is simply Mr Brown, carded, semi worsted style. It has the nicest texture, but also the least luster (shine). From right to left (opposite of normal, I know), the other samples are: blended with alpaca, blended with llama, blended with a different icelandic fleece, blended with silk, combed and spun worsted, and on the far right, spun semi woolen from the comb wastage.
The two yarns on the far left, the combed and comb waste yarns, would make great weaving yarn (warp and weft respectively). I think these are by farm my favourite, however, there is a problem.
The problem is that I have the most lovely set of wool combs.
Okay people, listen up! When I say that the house is not child friendly today and that any ambulatory people with a still developing sense of safety should not enter, this is why.
Roughly 7 and a half inch long spikes, five rows of them, very very very very, VERY pointy. It scares me to think of what these could do to a person with diminished capacity for reasoning. And since I live with a person whose capacity for rational thought is rapidly diminishing, I cannot work with these while he's in the house.
Luckily they have a really nice and safe storage space, which nicely hides the points.
They make a marvelous result, and I adore these combs. But given safety and the fact that together with the fact that they are roughly twice the volume of my drumcarder, I have trouble finding time and place when I can use them.
I think I'll start hunting for a more portable solution. Keep these for heavy duty and large amounts of wool combing, but start seeking a smaller set that can be held in the hand. Mini combs are a bit small for me, but maybe there is something out there in between, bigger and sturdier than mini combs, but smaller than my 5 pitch, giants.