Friday, 27 May 2016

Hillcresent Farm Jacobs Fleece No.1

This is the last fleece from the seven that I bought as a job lot from a local farm.

Sheared on 26th May 2013 this one weighed 1.5Kg after I skirted it and below you will see a photo of the sheep that this fleece came from with her new born lamb in 2015.

This particular fleece had very few white locks which meant that it was not worth the effort trying to produce a very small amount of white yarn.  I separated the blackest locks from the rest of the fleece so that I can spin from these two colours of the fleece and I washed the two colours separately.

The black part of the fleece gave me 432g after washing and the mixed colours of fleece gave me 567g.

The Black Fleece

The locks of this fleece are anything up to 8 inches long, incredibly long for a Jacobs sheep and black fleece has a tendency to grow longer than white fleece, or white parts of the same fleece.  A lot of the length broke off during the combing process due to the length of the sun-bleached tips.  From my original washed weight of 432g I was left with 220g of hand-combed nests for spinning, which is about 46% yield.

I wanted to make something different to my usual thickness of yarn this time and so aimed to spin this fleece as thick as I could, which is not easy to do when your hands naturally tell you to do something else.  I did manage to make two skeins of yarn, each just over 100g, in a super bulky weight and totalling 297g/248m.

The Mixed Colours

I decided to leave this in its natural colour and I just spun it as it came out of the bag, not paying any attention to what colours in what amounts was on the comb.  At the end of combing the big bag of fleece I was left with 272g of combed nests from my 567g of washed fleece.

The bag of combed nests was quite colourful with all the different blended shades of browns and greys in there and I decided to sort all of the nests from darkest to lightest as best as I could.  I then got a very long cardboard tube left over from wrapping paper and threaded every-other-one of the nests in shade order onto the tube.  As you wind the length up around your hand and secure it there is a "hole" in the middle a bit like a doughnut.  I then took a second tube and loaded the remaining nests onto that, again in shade order.

This gave me the opportunity to either make one huge skein of yarn in a natural gradient colour by spinning a single from each tube worth of fibre and then plying together, but this would have to have a break in the middle as you would never fit that amount of yarn onto one bobbin as you ply it.  Or I could make 2 different natural gradient yarns, perhaps in two different weights/thicknesses of yarn.  The latter is what I decided to do.

I spun two different weights of yarn, both were spun as a single and then Navajo plied, which is a method of creating a 3-ply yarn from a single length using a loop method, and this keeps the colours in the order that you want them in the finished yarn.  One yarn was worsted weight, 133g/270m and the other one was super bulky weight, 127g/66m.  The pictures below shows the worsted weight yarn.

The super bulky yarn was used to make a hat for my husband to keep his head warm after he participated in MacMillan's Brave the Shave event.  He didn't go completely bald, but not far off, and the hat was darkest at the rim and fading to pale grey at the crown and kind of matched his hair, dark but going grey.  He had no idea that I had made this for him and I presented him with it after he had had his hair buzzed off.

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