I've bought my first whole sheep fleece after being advised by experienced spinners on a Forum as to which breed would be best to chose to get for a beginner spinner. Its a Jacob fleece from Jacksmere Pure Breeds that I bought through Ebay. The ewe, pictured, had recently given birth to triplets and it was her fleece that I bought. When it arrived it stunk to high heaven of Ammonia, on top of the usual sheep smell, even before I had even taken it out of the plastic sack that it had arrived in through the post. I was busy doing something else but due to the overwhelming stench and I had no choice but to have a break from what I was doing and get to work on giving it some kind of initial wash straight away by filling the bath with hot soapy water and placing it in whole to have a soak with the window open whilst I finished what I was doing. It stunk the house out. I would not recommend trying to wash a fleece whole like this. It was an absolute nightmare!
Anyway, after its first soak and then a water change and another soak I allowed it to drain, I then started separating the colours by pulling large chunks of white locks from the fleece. I broke these large chunks into individual locks and washed using my laundry bags, in the same way that I washed the Alpaca fleece. I worked the black/brown in the same way and then the rest, where the colours were mingled together, was worked. Once dry I started working on it using my trusty dog comb. It worked ok but I could only do a small amount at a time, it was extremely time consuming and hard work but I managed a small pile of "fluff".
I started spinning the lovely hand-combed nests that I had created into a light fingering weight single yarn that weighs 183g and measures 634m.
I then turned my attention to the black/brown fibres and processed in the same way, using my combs to get rid of all the rubbish and just make a lovely nice clean light fingering weight single yarn of 152g and 412m
Last but not least, the mixed colours, which were impossible to separate due to the mingling. This gave me a light fingering weight single yarn of 131g and 460m and seeing as a certain book is very popular right now (not in my household I might add!), I have decided to call it the very aptly "50 Shades of Grey". Who'd have thought that combing these mixed colours would produce grey, a bit like mixing black and white paint and getting grey!
Its amazing, 3 natural coloured lots of yarn from just one fleece!