De-stashing is going to be a permanent condition I fear. While trying to purge unwanted and excess fleeces I found a lovely, soft lambswool with gorgeous crimp. The colour is a slight dusty rose and the handle is so soft it’s nearly like cashmere.
This fleece had been washed and then stored in very good conditions. It was not damaged in any way. Once I started to process it I discovered a load of problems that made me question the wisdom of proceeding with processing the fleece for spinning.
The first problem was that it was a lambs fleece. Amniotic fluid can damage the tips of the fleece and make them extremely brittle. Ann McElroy told me that when she is birthing her lambs the fluid dries out her hands to the point they start cracking. I don’t doubt her for a second.
The staple is very long, but those tips, so sad to learn how easily they snap off.
Tippy fleece when the length is this long is a fairly easy fix. Just cut the tips off, and process as you would for any normal fleece, either use carders or combs.
However, there was another problem and it is much more daunting and that is scurf. Scurf is sheep dandruff. It is caused, usually, from mites, but I’m sure it has other causes. I’m mostly interested in the results which are flakes of lanolin mixed with sloughed skin cells. These harden and are extremely difficult to remove from the fleece. Since this was a lamb fleece the little critter also played in the field and got into all sorts of mischief with bits of vegetation and dust. I was two seconds away from throwing this in the trash or compost, but I gave it a deep comb, just to see what results I could get.
There are nebs in there, so I put it through the comb a second time and removed them. The wastage was massive, nearly 50%. This wastage is from cut tips, scurf, vegetable matter, dust, tiny bits of straw etc. When I combed the wool I used a spray of water with hair conditioner mixed in to keep the stress on the wool to a minimum; it really helped.
This is residue from the first combing,
And this is residue from the second combing.
I freely admit the work involved in salvaging this fleece was NOT worth it. I learned more than I ever wanted to know about sheep dandruff. This is an exercise not to be repeated – ever!!
That said, the final result is rather lovely, nearly cashmere soft, grey lambs wool skeins. The yield is an astonishing 12 skeins of gorgeous two ply, that I’m really pleased with. Not at all sure what I’ll do with it, but someone will have a suggestion, I’m certain of that.