Wool, lots of it!
A friend has a friend who has a sheep farm. Do you know where this is leading? The sheep are meat sheep, and they normally shear the sheep and throw away the wool. Doesn’t that seem like a crime? Well, I was asked if I would like the wool, and how could I say no? I was thinking I would get a small bag that I would try my hand at washing and carding to spin. Not knowing what the breed of sheep were, I happily accepted the offer of wool. It was delivered to me at the Magnolia Party, they took me to their car to show me 2 huge black contractors bags full of wool! At least 10# each!!! That is a lot of wool, if you need a comparison, just think how much your favorite sweater weighs. The wool was lambswool, a cross of Suffolk/Hamsphire (Black wool- natural color cross).
Plus Suffolk lambs:
When I read about it in my favorite fiber book, The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook, they said that while not often available to hand spinners, it spins up as good outerwear, soft yet durable, often overlooked as a good fleece for handspinners. These breeds are in the Down classification (from Down area of southern England, nothing to do with soft under down of a duck). The staple length is short, 2-4 inches
I wish that I had taken a photo of the bags of wool, one white, the other black with white. I very quickly realized 2 things, one that I could never hand process all of this wool, and secondly that the strong sheep farm smell was more than I wanted to put up with for a long time in my house, especially as it was very warm that week. So, the day after coming back from a trip to Michigan to visit my Mom, I drove with a friend to the Illinois Wool & Fiber Mill in Belvidere, about a 90 minute drive each way. We dropped off the bags and got a tour of the mill, the machinery was custom-made for them:
First the drying racks after the wool has been washed:
Then to carding:
And to processing into roving (the owner Jane is in the blue shirt):
And, you can’t leave a fiber mill without a little sheep time!
Now, I have a 6 month wait before they are caught up on their backlog. Plenty of time to figure out what to do with all of this wool.