It's fleece season. I'm on a bit of a mission to get better at handling and evaluating fleeces. So.
When I was demonstrating spinning at Burwash Manor last Sunday (blogged over at yarnscape, because it's a public event), I took the opportunity to buy a fleece from the chaps who were demonstrating sheep shearing. I selected this sheep's fleece because the sheep looked, to me, like a Bluefaced
Leicester (BFL) cross. BFL is lovely wool; long staple, soft and
delicious. He had some like this one, and the rest of his sheep were rough fells, which do not have soft wool.
Here is the whole fleece, laid out flat, with the britch (bottom!) end towards us and the head end pointing away:
Note the poop-smear at the top left hand corner, and the red marking on the right flank. You can also see how thick the fleece is on the sides of the sheep, and how thin along the spine.
This is some of the lovely thick stuff from the flanks of the sheep:
You can see that the staple length is nice and long, and it's very crimpy/curly at the ends. (If you click for big, you'll see that the crimp extends the whole length of the staple). This bit of fleece is quite nice and not matted; you can see it's quite easy for me to pull it apart, and you can see through to the grass underneath.
This bit is from one of the legs:
It's really quite badly felted. After exerting a bit of pressure, I couldn't really separate out any locks. You could cut this stuff to size and have instant chair cushions.
Here's a closeup of the fleece running along the spine:
It's much thinner and less lush than the flanks, and shorter, too. It's also quite dry to the touch and may be brittle. So I split up the fleece into flanks, spine, back end and front legs, thus:
I'm going to try washing and combing the flanks; they may spin up to a very useful worsted yarn. I've kept everything except the matted back end parts, and will see if anything is redeemable. It may not be, but I have this gut feeling that the only way to find the boundary between 'useable' and 'useless' is to step over it a few times.