Monday, 17 June 2013

Alpaca and Shetland Wool, together in harmony

I do love a nice Shetland fleece, I don't know what it is about them but I love touching them, so soft and bouncy and light to the touch.  I was so impressed with the Black Shetland fleece when it arrived that I went back to the same farmer in Morval, Cornwall and bought some more Shetland fleece from her.  500g of "light fawn to cream" that was also sheared in June 2012.

I washed this fleece when it arrived last year but have only just gotten around to doing anything more with it.  It was pretty dirty and after washing I was left with only 340g and after being combed that went down further still to just 186g of lovely soft combed top ready to spin in whole range of colours, with one particularly dark nest standing out from the crowd.

I had also bought some lovely cream Huacaya Alpaca last year too from Abacus Alpacas in South Cerney, Gloucestershire from one of their lovely Alpaca's called Dakota, so pretty!

1000g of main body fleece, once washed and combed left me with approx 671g of lovely combed alpaca top to spin in similar shades as the Shetland fleece.  I decided to blend equal amounts of both the Alpaca and the Shetland together and then to spin the left over Alpaca on its own.  The first picture below shows the same weight of Shetland (left) and Alpaca (right).

I only lost about 3g during the blending process and I managed to get 3 skeins of lovely soft 50% Shetland Wool/50% Alpaca yarn in double knit weight: 64g/161m, 141g/33m and 167g/338m.

From the Alpaca being spun on its own I managed to get 4 good sized skeins of yarn.

They weighed in at: 117g/200m, 117g/200m (yeah, WOW, two exactly the same, not an easy feat),


and 131g/288m

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Buying a Job Lot of Jacobs Fleece

I had so much fun with my first Jacobs fleece that I decided to get some more and looked on Ebay to see what was available.  Low and behold, 7 Jacobs fleece available at a low price just around the corner from my home at a farm that I never even realised was there as it is situated behind a couple of cottages on the Birmingham Road, Water Orton, about one-third of a mile as the crow flies across parkland, the A452, the M6 and a farmers field but seeing as I cannot fly I had to take the 5 minute drive as its 1.9 miles away by road.

Stuart and Katie had only moved in towards the end of last year and were busy doing the place up and turning it into a rural training centre for a range of vulnerable people.  Here is a link to their website Hillcrescent Farm to read more about what they do.

Back to the fleece, and I had no real idea as to what I was going to get other than that they were Jacobs fleece and there were 7 of them.  I took large black bags with me, just in case they weren't bagged, good job I did.  I had a quick look at a couple of them before I handed over the cash, they seemed OK, not cotted or rotten, not overly coarse and for the price that was good enough for me.  This was the first time the sheep had been sheared since being in the ownership of Stuart and Katie and they had no idea of what a handspinner expects of and looks for in a fleece.  I provided them with copies of some useful information sheets that I had about preparing fleece to sell etc

When I got home I examined them all properly and I had to skirt them myself, removing as much daggings and the poor quality fleece from around the edges, along with any large pieces of vegetable matter (VM).  The weights underneath each fleece are the skirted weights.  I didn't bother to weigh them before I skirted them.  They are all photographed in the same place in my kitchen.  I nearly fell over a couple of times due to the lanolin making the floor slippery, which required a good mopping with hot water and disinfectant after I had finished.

Fleece No.1 - 1.5kg

Fleece No.2 - 1.6kg

Fleece No.3 - 1.05kg

Fleece No.4 - 1.4kg

Fleece No.5 - 1.1kg
Fleece No.6 - 0.79kg

Fleece No.7 - 1.35kg

A good mix of colours on the fleece, some mostly black, most 50/50 and various qualities between fleece too.  I'm going to have some fun with this little lot.  I guess you would like to see some photos of the young ladies who produced these fleece?

Ok, here you go.  All of these photos of the sheep are copyright to Hillcrescent Farm.

(c) Hillcrescent Farm

(c) Hillcrescent Farm

(c) Hillcrescent Farm