Thursday, 17 March 2011


Last October at Rhinebeck, I fell in love with a fleece. This fleece was very large and very greasy, but the color and the crimp and the softness combined got me to throw my wallet down anyway.

Stash to sell

I love the fact that they included a picture of the sheep with the fleece. She's pretty.

There are plenty of really good merino for spinning available commercially, but it's rare to find such a beautiful moorit color anywhere. Merinos, along with other breeds, have been selectively bred to be white. That way, they can get consistent dye lots in the textile industry. It's hard to find naturally colored sheep fleeces unless you really seek them out, and I do. This is my white whale of a fleece. Except it is creamy brown.

Muriel the Merino

It took a ton of washing to get this clean, and I lost about 30% of the weight once the grease was gone. She was wearing a coat, so it was remarkably clean and free of dirt and bits of plants that sheep pick up as they graze.

She had the most perfectly gorgeous fleece I've ever seen.

A fleece this size was going to take me weeks to process and months to spin. I was looking forward to it wholeheartedly- I love processing my own fleece and enjoy the project from start to finish if it's a nice fleece. This was the plan until I got wind of a sale at Zellinger's. It was too good of a deal to pass up, so I packed the fleece in a big box, included my order instructions and sent it off for someone else to deal with.

Wool processing mills are notoriously slow at turnaround time (many of my friends are just getting their processed fleeces in the mail that they had sent off when they were at Rhinebeck) so I had this really large window before this would make its way back to me. Five months sounded reasonable- I'm in no hurry and it's not like I'm running out of fleece in the meantime.

Imagine my surprise that a mere 5 weeks later, an absolutely enormous box arrived with the UPS man. What? I'm not expecting anything. This can't be right- what would show up my door in a box that comes up past my hip? I am tall, by the way.

Oh. It's You. I wasn't expecting You so soon.

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Didn't I just get a Shetland fleece processed at Loop a couple days ago? Once you turn a fleece into roving or batts, you can no longer pack it down solid and shove it into space bags and vacuum out all the air and hide it. Once it gets nice and fluffed up, you are stuck with it in that bloated state. Unless you want to ruin it. Which you don't.

Anyway. I will sing the praises of Zellinger's. Not only were they super fast and extremely affordable- I paid $43 for 8lbs, which came back to me about 6lbs- but they also did a wonderful job. They washed it one more time for me and the roving is perfect, with hardly a nep to be found. I couldn't have done a better job if I painstakingly combed it lock by lock.

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Someone has some spinning to do.

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