Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tunis Fleece Sorting

Today is a great day to sort and wash the Tunis fleece. The deep freeze continues this weekend, and a heat wave with temps in the 30's and 40's is expected in a couple of days! What a perfect time to stay home, and hunker down in the keeping room with a dirty, chaffy, mildly smelly old fleece! Can't wait to get it soaking in the sink......;) I began by unrolling this fleece on the floor--you could work outdoors, or on an old sheet, but I chose to just work on the wood floor. The fleece really is not that dirty, at least not with loose sandy grit. I started by examining the wool, and determined which end was the neck end and which was the rump end. Then a look at the locks helped me determine which areas had the prime fleece. The shoulders and along the upper back typically have the best wool. The wool along the spine or top of the sheep is generally not as good. The prime wool has a longer staple length and is fine and relatively clean. The staple length on this prime wool is about 4-5 inches long. The average wool, which runs along the spine and down the sides of the sheep is about 3-4 inches long and a bit courser, but still quite springy. The wool at the edges and down the back end of the animal is courser and dirtier, but I will still process it, and perhaps use it for felting, or some other use,other than for "next to the skin" articles.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

"Tunis in" for the next exciting episode of "Forays in Fleece Stashing"!

This is the last mild day before we are expected to get blasted with a deep freeze....well, as deep as it gets in Connecticut, these days....the weatherman is calling for temps to be in the 20's during the day---I do remember winter weather in the not-so-distant past, when weeks on end were typically low teens or single digits during the day and below zero nighttime temperatures.we had to move the goats into the heated garage at night! They had a hard time with that kind of cold, even with their beautiful new jackets. But global warming has changed our climate somewhat. Anyway, I thought it might be nice to wash up a sample of a beautiful Tunis fleece that has managed to escape the clutches of infestation, in storage in my basement for about 3 years, before we head out to enjoy the day. We "found it" , along with the yearling Romney fleece that I posted about recently, which did have bug infestation, but was salvageable. Usually best to clean fleece when you purchase it, so that you do not run into this problem. If you can store the fleece in an airtight covered container, with the air pressed out of it, you can buy plenty of time, as air is a cause of deterioration. So, as you can see below, the sample on the left is washed, the sample on the right is not. Quite a difference in brightness, there is just a bit of yolkiness to the unwashed wool, cause by a bacteria, actually. But, after a 10 minute soak in a bit of Dawn dish washing liquid and hot water, with only a gentle press or two to get the wash liquor flowing through it (followed by a rinse in hot water, also no agitation--otherwise it would have felted), it has cleaned up beautifully. I had read that detergent was okay to use ( I generally use Orvus WA Paste), and wanted to try it. The results are great. This Tunis fleece is very soft, fine, and springy. It has a lot of life in it. I think it would be a good fleece to make a sweater or hat from, as it will trap a lot of air in it, due to the springy nature of the fibers, and would spin up woolen style quite nicely. Can't wait to experiment with the spinning wheel, as soon as it dries! Maybe this evening. The rest of this day will be spent antiquing, and possibly a stop by an Antiquarian bookstore in Massachusetts--perhaps I will find something on hand looms or spinning wheels, or old knitting books!