Saturday, May 8, 2010

Fleeces & Brown on My Mind

I am thinking again. Sometimes this is for the best, sometimes it gets me in trouble, and sometimes I should rethink what I was thinking. Nonetheless, I this is what I am thinking.

After shearing this year I have concluded a few things: First I love my Cotswold fleeces and I have to learn how to spin ASAP because I know I will appreciate them even more. Second, the best fleeces from my Shetlands are honestly off my 3 fawn kat ewes ( a mom & her twin daughters). Third, the moorit/mioget fleeces are not too bad, soft but not long staples but with a bit more selectively breedings, I think progress will be made. Fourth, I am not happy with my black fleeces, yuck. The only ones that I really like and are nice are coming off of Jed. and these fleeces are off the gullie yearling ewes. Fifth, the spotted sheep fleeces are disappointing for me. Maybe its just me not knowing all the different types of fleeces very well. The softness is there, but not the staple length or just one full fleece, too many pieces. Is that an issue with the double fleeced sheep? The gullie fleeces all came off so nice and smooth and same with the kat ewes.

Pictured above Harvest Thyme Pumpkin, a 2 yr old. (Harvest Thyme Harriet (blk smirslet) x Lil'Country Jedidiah). She had a beautiful fleece going into winter then it started to roo out around late Feb.

This is her fleece above. It is very soft and crimped underneath but has a harsh, hair like outer coat. Any suggestions on this for quality? Be honest, I am a strong woman:)

Above is a 2 yr old mioget ewe (Windswept Savannah Grace (mioget) x Jed.). Her fleece came off very nicely but of course I forgot to get a pic of it and its buried in one of the fleece bags!

This fleece is off of one of the fawn kat ewes. It is such a pretty fleece. This ewe, however, has been rated by me as Flake #1 out in the barn. She is just out there but she is definitely a poll carrier as she has produced 2 full polled boys & one small scurred boy. She has only produced boys so this Fall I am going to breed her to Ripton in hopes of getting a polled or small scurred ram lamb with a nice spotted fleece.........of course this is what I am thinking and thinking does not necessarily mean I will get it. There is always hope:)

This little stinker is her full polled boy from last year. He is a wether now, nice little fleece that came off of him. I am thinking he might be mioget? Maybe light moorit?
So I am thinking of taking all of my shades of brown fleeces and having them done into yarn. A few people have expressed interest in finding a nice, natural colored brown yarn. Any opinions or suggestions out there? I have never had yarn done so I would love to hear any helpful
feedback ( like is a longer staple needed for yarn, how much is needed, and any recommend places to send it etc). Enough thinking for today, I am off to my nephew's First Communion party. More thinking tonight.


Kara said...

I had yarn made at Illinois Wool and the woman's name is Jane. She did a great job and she has no minimum order, where as other places have a 30 minimum for yarn. It did take about 6 months turn around but it was worth it, she really did nice work. It is pricey to have done. Good luck. I find my black fleeces to be my least soft and my katmogets the best overall. The first ram I used is in Ohio now at Lamb'z Own if you want to add staple length, luster, he had a 23 yearling micron, you might want to see what Marion might have for sale this year. She used him on ALL her ewes this past breeding season.

kristi said...

thank you for the input I will check them out. I am not worried about the time frame as I have enough to do and 6 mos would put me into late Fall & winter so not a problem. I will be adding a new ram next year most likely. You have been a great support system for me and I truly appreciate it:)

Tammy said...

Just a couple things Kristi--first I'm not an expert or play one on t.v. ;-) I just know what feels soft. Your fleece that you said was hairy on the outside, doesn't look bad in the picture. I'm just seeing sunbleached tips. Of course you are the one with the hands on, so that would be the final 'judge'. It looks like she has a nice crimpy fleece. She may have allot of britch wool though, which might be what you are seeing as long and hairy. As for the shearing--some nice and some not, this usually doesn't have as much to do with their quality of wool, but where they are in 'the rise'. A nice fleece can come off and be in the middle of the rise, so you have a mess on your hands. Every year when I skirt and evaluate fleeces something new pops up. On the whole you will find them consistent year to year, BUT there are always outside factors. I had one ewe who always has a lovely lovely soft fleece, but this year it's dirty and full of VM. Not her normal style, and it was disappointing to see. Unbred ewes (and wethers) and lambs tend to crank out the nicest fleeces. I have had troubles getting a softer black fleece too over the years. Staple length isn't a problem here, but some of the girls tend to have too much britch wool. It's good to think and review what you have, and what you want to accomplish as well. Last year I sold all my fleeces, and all my roving stock of 'natural colors' so there is a market for it. Have fun!

Kim said...

Hi Kristi. I'm still new at this. However, in my small flock my softest fleeces have come from my two Ag sheep. The most course being my black and silver. Tammy @ Fairlight recently told me that her Ag sheep fleeces sell the best. Neither one of us have Kats.

As for the wool length, I don't believe it matters long or short. Once it's made into roving it shouldn't matter. At least that's how I understand it so far. I've only dabbled with a homemade drop spindle. I've spun Icelandic and soon I'll be trying my own Shetland fleeces. I'm anxious to see if I find a difference between the two.

Interesting about the spotted fleeces not holding together well... we don't have spots in our flock yet, and I wonder if this is common. I suppose it wouldn't matter if it's all being made into roving?? If there's an experienced spinner out there, please correct me if I'm wrong! :)

Mim said...

Short fleece when you spin it can make a more fuzzy type yarn. Lots of short fiber. Fibers of different lengths blended together from the same fleece can make a harsh yarn even when low in microns. The long silky type fleece can make a fine smooth next to the skin yarn when spun, even if it's on the higher end of the microns. So both are good it's what you want your yarn to be, for the project your making. I have some moorit fleeces here that can be very harsh some years. This year I have an old moorit ewe whose fleece this year is very soft? We have hot dry summers but this year we were cooler more rain. Was it partially due to the weather or was it how I fed this year? Lots more grass hay and very little to no grain and alfalfa. High octane feed is what I call grain and alfalfa, can produce a harsher fleece. Then there are genetics, why your spotted fleece fall apart do they need more density, wool follicles per inch of skin, this can all be very confusing!

Juliann said...

Kristi I don't think it looks like a bad fleece, just tippy. Are those tips matted? If so, you can salvage the fleece if you don't mind a little elbow grease. Grab the mat and the base of the staple and pull steadily until the mat comes off. It's pain in the butt, but these fleeces just don't come off perfect when we have fiber animals exposed to the elements, plus rubbing up on things, plus timing that rise, etc.
Pigment tends to coarsen fibers, which is why whites, fawn kats, and Ag's tend to be softer. And black tend to be harsher. There are always exceptions. And everybody has their work cut out for them with spotted Shetland fleeces. I'll have to show you some samples of some of the earlier spotted stuff available, truly cringeworthy! :)

kristi said...

I always enjoying seeing your name on the comments as you are a wealth of info.! The rise thing just drives me crazy! The Cotswold fleeces come off nice and smooth and one too many Shetlands come in a mess except the kats, gullies, and actually the Ags. I was thinking of coats for a few of the Shetlands like this moorit one as I am curious to see what that would do for their fleeces. As always, thank you Tammy!

I had my fawn kat fleeces spun into roving last year and they turned out quite nice. Perhaps I am thinking of taking the brown shades into roving if it turns up to be too many pieces. So much to learn......

lots of good info to think about....thank you! I was very frustrated with the black and spotted fleeces and just felt like the "bad owner". Rethinking the feed is an interesting point and one I will look at more closely.

I looked back at her fleece and I am going to say that its not really matted but more bleached. I am glad you pointed that out as I am looking more at the frustration instead of practicality of outside factors. I am not a coat believer but am considering it with her and this grey ag wether. His fleeces rooed out in mid winter and I was totally heartbroken as it was looking beautiful. This rise thing really gives me a rise level! I have this vision of a true spotted fleece.....until then, I breath deeply:)