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Canadian Arcott Ram #2 Part 2

Canadian Arcott Ram #2 Part 2

In an earlier post we found out that 3 breeds of sheep were created by Agriculture Canada mixing existing breeds to create a sheep that would give; multiple births, fast-growing lambs and ewe’s with good mothering instincts. At first, their goal was to make a breed of sheep for research purposes but as the project continued they developed into 3 separate breeds; the Rideau Arcott, the Outaouais Arcott and the Canadian Arcott.   Since they have been bred mostly for their meat, the fleeces around here are variable often strikingly different between individuals in the same flock. The Rideau Arcott’s fleeces I have worked with before, on my highly technical scale, have ranged from OOOOH! all the way to Ick!

This being the first Canadian Arcott fleeces I have worked with I am testing their qualities and seeing what they may be best for. If you find a Canadian Arcott, it will likely be more lustrous than the Rideau Arcotts, and less variability between individual fleeces. (This is a strong rumour and your Canadian may vary a bit from the breed standard. It’s always best to look at each fleece as an individual)

Last post I tested Ram #2 (it’s ram number two because he was the second one out of the bag.) His ewes are employed as lawn maintenance specialists at a local solar farm.

We found that the fleece worked well with both combing and carding preparations producing a niece yarn from each. I had kept the combing waste and had carded up extra fibre to try the next set of experiments with it. So let’s see what I found out next!!

Comb waist needle felting test

Let’s see what the comb waist is like for felting (I have had very good results from some of Bernadette’s Combing waste fibre for both core and outer layers) she has very good fibre so even the waste is good!!

Ram 2, even in this relatively clean section I have sampled, had some VM (Vegetable Matter) which the combs separated brilliantly. This meant my sample section had VM amongst the fibre short bits and naps. This will be a good test of some of the lesser quality fibre from this fleece.

33 test with comb wast

This is not as fast to needle felt as a Shetland but it has springiness and lustre. For an understructure that needs to be relatively firm but have some give that springs back, it might be perfect. (A belly perhaps?)

34 close up of needle felted ball-ish shape.

I was using a courser needle I think it was one of the T-36’s for this sample. It created a slightly dented surface but if I had switched to a T-40 or paid more attention to how I was poking, I think it would have been able to make it a bit smoother but it was quite acceptable for an underlayer. I did notice a bit of a very fine halo that is more visible in the shadowed areas.


Wet Felting with Carded wool

Now the last consideration, can it be wet felted. I have a feeling it may not be good since it shows signs of stubbornness with the lovely fine crimp. But let’s see.  There is always hope until it is crushed mercilessly.


So let’s try the carded fibre and layout a sample. To give it the best chance for felting I laid thin wispy layers in alternating directions North /south then east /west. I repeated until I had a puffy pile about an inch thick.

35 approximately 2.5 inches square

I had received a number of small bubble wrap bags with the larger needle felting tools (the 3 needle holders were all very poorly packed and had no bubble wrap)


36 bubble wrap bag that needle felting tool cam in.

I found one of the smaller pouches and placed the layered fleece inside with the bubble facing in. now to add soap and water. Hmm, maybe I better try and start it first in my hand then put it into the bubble wrap.

First, this wool is not a sponge. I used a lot of soap and warm water to wet the fibres, some of which collected in the bottom of the bubble wrap bag. I also discovered bubbles do not make good waterproof bags, they drip. So I put it into an extra-large sandwich bag to contain the wetness.

37 Ooops this bag leaks in the corners!!! need better waterproofing!!!

38 XL sandwich bag!! that will make felting safe!!

I started with gentle caresses across the bubble wrap then moved to gently rubbing it between my hands. I focused on working in both vertical and horizontal directions. The wool has spread out but doesn’t feel like it’s grabbing yet. Let me find a video to watch and I will keep going.

39-40 taking a quick peek

41 cant see what I’m doing too many bubbles!!!

As the soap built up I went and rinsed some of it out.

42 43  There does seem to be adhesion! But let’s see if I can get a bit more. I put it back into the bubble wrap bag and put that into the sandwich bag.  Now, to add more enthusiasm to the rubbing!

44 Now off for a rinse and see what we have and is it felt?

45 Drying, look how thin it is. There was some shrinkage as well as some migration at the edges.

46 Yes, that is defiantly felt! with the lateral migration, it is very thin.

47 no longer the about 2.5inch square I started with.

47 it certainly isn’t an inch thick anymore!

Ann wanted to know “Did it shrink at all? When I have felted some of the “nonfelting” wool before it didn’t shrink. It did stick together but as you say, you could pull it apart. It would make good sheets of batting to go in a quilt

I don’t think it would be a good one for quilting it flattened too much. I think it may have shrunk but it also spread so I think it spread about an inch but it is also a lot thinner than it started. It did shrink if you consider it vertically even with the displacement into extra width.

This might be effective when mixed with some more enthusiastically felting sheep and then used for a super thin light summer scarf or shawl.  It may be a good base to build up from. I may have to do another sample to see how it reacts with different sheep and other fibre

it is softer in texture than the spun yarn. I could probably tear it apart if I really tugged a bit.  It is holding to the pinch test but again if I was more aggressive I could likely pull off the uppermost layer.  So a bit more aggressive felting might have helped its cohesiveness. Even with that stated it is at the stage that it is definitely felt and not fibre. It kind of reminds me of cookie dough that looked thick as it went in the oven but when cooked spread into a puddle

I think this would not be a top choice for most wet felting projects but some of its properties may be useful. I think this may be more of a fleece to look at for weaving. Its low elasticity would defiantly be a plus when making a warp!

PS just got my second covid shot yesterday and it may be bright and sunny out but I think it’s time for bed. this time I got the Phyzer version and it’s much nicer than the AZ (i feel like I was kicked in the arm by a small mule then climbed a large mountain.) if I can avoid getting covid it will all be worth it!! have fun felting and I will chat more when I wake up.


In Ottawa, Tis’ the Season of New Fibre Acquisitions!

In Ottawa, Tis’ the Season of New Fibre Acquisitions!

My first fleeces of the year were purchased today.  Even better, I was picking them up at the same Farmers Market where Ann sells delicious tarts, cookie, Bread and pies! The Market is set up so you go in a big circle with all the booths have space and a wide gravel path. This year there are more booths.

1-2 Barhaven Farmers Market

 3 Ross and Ann!

I bought Mom a couple of Chocolate chip cookies (they are her favorites) as well as Cookies and tarts for Glenn. More customers were arriving so I couldn’t stay and chat so it’s time to move on to the Fleece.

 4 Note the bag of fleece in the back left corner of the booth!

The fleeces I purchased were Rams who belong to a flock of about 300 sheep. The Ewes are gainfully employed as professional Lawn maintenance specialists, keeping the weeds trimmed under solar panels! I hear the burrs that were in last year’s fleece have been almost eradicated.  (I did not see any in the fleeces I got this year as I re-bagged them).

 5 This is a bit better view of the 2 skirted Rams.

 6-7 Distracted by small cool wild flowers beside the parking spot.

Now to get back to the important parts, these rams are Canadian Arcotts. This is a breed that you may have had  the opportunity to  have  fun with before. Its one of 3 breeds (Canadian, Outaouais and Rideau Arcott) developed by the Canadian government here in Ottawa.  The last part of their name, Arcott, stands for Animal Research Centre Ottawa.  The Arcott breeding program began in 1966 with the goal to create a breed which reproduced rapidly for genetic and other sheep research. The original mix of breads are listed as Finnish Landrace, Southdown, East Friesian, Suffolk, Leicester, North Country Cheviot, Ramnelet, Dorset Horn, Shropshire and Ile-de-France for the Arcotts.

1982 all three Arcotts were recognized as distinct breeds.  Rideau Arcott mature quickly  grows rapidly and often have triplets. Although they are primarily a meat breed, their wool is described as a medium quality and variable. The Outaouais Arcott are also know for fast growing and often having triplets. There fleece is considered variable and there was a mention of good for milking. The Canadian Arcott is considered as a good meat breed with fast growth.  The fleece was listed as Soft, lustrous 3-4 inches long and a 25 – 33 micron count.

I unfortunately do not have a photo of the rams who produced these fleeces. If this was in smell-i-vision you could experience the lovely sheepy aroma. Some rams are a bit aggressive aromaticly, but both of these fleeces have a more normal sheepy smell.

8-11  Fleece #1- Ram professionally sheered and well skirted. The crimp is tighter than fleece #2. The locks I used as an unwashed sample are about 3.5 inches long.

12-15   Fleece #2 – Ram professionally sheered and well skirted. Not as crimpy as Ram #1. The stale length is about 3 inches on the unwashed sample I pulled.

Both these look like they would make fun spinning fleeces and I look forward to sampling them for felting. I have not worked with a Canadian Arcott before so this will be both fun and educational. There will be samples to share but first I have to finish cleaning up the side yard so I have space to wash and dry the fleeces!

Coming up on Monday will be our guild A.G.M. We will also be having a fiber poker challenge. This year as well as Spinning and Weaving there will be a deck for Felting! I will tell you about that in a future post.

Have fun and keep felting, spinning, weaving, fleece washing! So much to do we need to make the days longer! Oh yes its summer, that will help!!


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