Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Dandelion and Border Leicester Fleeces.

Whilst giving the sheep their breakfast yesterday I noticed that a patch of fleece on Dandelions back was starting to come away. So after a brief wrestle I managed to get him in a position to try and get as much fleece off him before he got it draped over all the hedges. I was quite surprised by how much came away and after a short while I had quite a pile of short, soft brown fluff. However Dandelion wasn't going to be cooperative for too long and as the fleece around his shoulders seemed to be reluctant to come off I decided to continue rooing him another day when, hopefully after some more warm weather, the fleece may be easy to pluck.

The fleece is very much like Soay or Castlemilk Moorit with a very short staple length and lots of skin flakes. So after consulting the Fleece and Fibre Sourcebook I gave a handful of fleece a wash and, once it was dry, put a few locks through my Louet Mini Combs - double row- and sure enough the skin flakes were not a problem.
When I manage to get the rest of the fleece off him I shall wash it and spin a sample up on one of my drop spindles to see what it is like. I have also been busy, weather permitting, washing a few fleeces from my stash as I like to get them dried outside in the sunshine. I managed to do two huge fleeces that were from Nibbles which were waiting to be done and a couple of fleeces that I bought some while ago when I was asked to teach spinning at a local heritage centre. Sadly these classes folded due to lack of interest and consequently I was left with loads of raw wool and an equipment surplus. I did get the wheels sold on Ebay but the fleeces have been waiting in the barn. Quite what I shall do with them remains to be seen but at least a couple have been washed!
 With thoughts turning to this years shearing I have been thinking of getting some of those fleeces on my wish list. Breeds that are not usually seen for sale either because they are rare or they are of more commercial breeds. I have been trying for a couple of years to get my hands on a Border Leicester fleece but without success. I did have a conversation with a lady at Woolfest last year who came from Scotland and she thought that she may be able to get one or two, but sadly that came to nothing. So a few days ago after reading about Border Leicester sheep in the lovely book Adventures in Yarn Farming by Barbara Parry I decided to trawl the internet one coffee time and see if I could find somebody willing to sell me a fleece or too. Lo and behold I found a website all about Border Leicester sheep and I contacted Ellie Stokeld who owns the Doulton Flock of prize winning sheep. What a find! After a couple of lovely emails I will hopefully be going up to North Yorkshire to collect a couple of fleeces and get to meet Ellie and her sheep. What a result! She kindly sent me a photo of one of her shearling rams.
This handsome chap is called Pavarotti and now lives in Italy! I'll let you know all about the fleeces when I can get my mitts on them.

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