Sunday, April 10, 2011


Yesterday the Hubbs and I went to the Fancy Fiber Fiesta at Chippokes Plantation State Park in Surry, VA.  They had lots of alpaca farms visiting, and were doing alpaca shearing, which was interesting, but what got me really excited was the small flock of hog island sheep  that live at the park and are a permanent part of the Farm and Forestry Museum.  I got interested in rare breed sheep shortly after I got interested in spinning in the first place, and hog island are some of the rarest, plus they are an American rare breed.  And they are cute.  And the flock had had just had several lambs.  One of which was being bottle fed so was quite tame.  Rare sheep, plus lambs, plus a tame lamb!  It was the trifecta of sheepy-fun!  And to top it all off I scored a whole hog island fleece all for me!  Yay!  I'm pretty sure it came off the ram, given how big it is.  The lady who gave (Gave!! We gave them a nice donation) it to me was pretty sure it came from either him or the larger ewe, but once I unrolled it, the thing is huge.  And heavy.  So I'm pretty sure it's the ram.  His name is Romeo.  I'll post a picture of him as soon as it uploads from my phone.

Some of the sheep:
The fleece, partly unfolded, pre-skirting and pre-washing:

And an alpaca, because they are cute too:

The fleece is in pretty good shape.  It from last years shearing, so I need to get it skirted and washed, like, yesterday.  So far so good though.  It looks like they got the major poopy bits taken off so all I've been picking out so far is the really gross bits, VM, some feed corn (whatever, I guess someone was a sloppy eater), and really short cuts of wool that are just going to pill up.  I've got the fist load already washed up and drying and it looks quite nice.  I think it will need a second trip through the wash (I only did one wash and one rinse this time) and nearly all the yellowish color has come out leaving a nice snowy white fleece.  The staple length is about 4 inches, and the crimp is very fine and tight, similar to the shetland I was working with for the Greenland hood, but the hairs are not as fine.

I think it will work up into a nice soft, lofty yarn.   Right now, the plan is to drum card it and spin it with a short draw, aiming for a semi-worsted yarn.    I'm not sure if I want to use this for knitting or weaving yet, or maybe some of both.  I have enough, I should be able to some of both.  The breed isn't a Medieval sheep, but I think for most things no one other than me (and maybe 4 other crazy people) will care, so I could use it for an SCA weaving project.  Which means more singles for weaving.  I'm not sure how the drum-carding will effect the yarns suitability for warp though, it seems like a semi-worsted yarn might not be a sturdy as a true worsted.  I guess that's what wool-flavored jello is for!

I also got 8 ounces of really lovely alpaca sliver to make an ear-warmer headband thing for the Hubbs out of, and maybe some fingerless fliptop mittens as well, if he's really good.  I HATE making gloves, the little finger holes are a huge PITA, but he really wants gloves he can text in.  So, yeah.  At least it's only half a finger.  I love spinning alpaca.  I've just got to do this thicker than the spiderweb lace I usually end up with when I spin alpaca on auto-pilot.  Maybe a lower wheel ratio?  That's been working well for me on my warps, I at least have to pay more attention to what I'm doing and not rely totally on feel.

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