This was a different year for us as far as fleece and fiber processing goes. Last summer and fall we sold most of our wool sheep and added several dairy sheep to the flock. Leaving us with only 2 wool sheep fleece this year. They are sheep we have had a long time, Fiona and Fergus, and thus we are very familiar with their fleece and what we like to do with them.
Fergus was a 3-year-old CVM/Merino x BFL ram. He has always had my favorite fleece of our flock each year. Since we had to cull him back in December, this was our last fleece from him. It was shorter than usual, since he didn’t have a full year’s growth. But it was just as wonderful as it always is. It weighed in at 3.9 lbs raw.
Since this was our last year with Fergus’ fleece, Mtn Man decided to try something different with the processing. Fergus had quite a range of grey color, from very light, to medium, to very dark.
So Mtn Man separated the light section from the darker sections and ran them separately. Then he put them together at the pin drafter. This made for a more heathered appearance to the yarn, instead of his usual medium-grey. He also mixed in bamboo at the pin drafter, which is my favorite thing to do with Fergus fleece. The bamboo adds strength, and just a tad of color, and makes for excellent, warm socks, which is mainly what I think I will do with this yarn.
His fleece produced 62.4 oz of 3-ply, DK-weight (11 wpi) yarn. The yarn is 15% bamboo, which was pre-dyed a forest green. There are 1,250 yards of it. The yarn feels great. It has loft and memory and is soft enough to be used against the skin. It was very difficult to get a photo that showed the true color and heathering of the yarn. But the bamboo fiber that was blended in was a dark forest green. So it is a dark, heathered grey with a touch of the dark forest green. I am very happy with it and looking forward to making it into some wonderful knit items for my family.
Fiona was our first-ever sheep at Willow Creek Farm, and she is the flock matriarch. She is 7 years old, and this was the first year we began to see her age in her fleece. Generally between 6-8 years old the fleece quality begins to go downhill. Fiona had less crimp than usual, but her fleece was still very soft and wonderful, with a nice crimp and some light luster. It weighed in at 4.1 lbs and had a nice, long staple length.
Fiona’s fleece never runs evenly when machine-processed. I don’t know what it is about it, probably how very fine it is, but it never runs even. So I have learned to embrace it as somewhat of a novelty yarn each year. Mtn Man added in 15% bamboo on her fleece this year, in a pre-dyed turqouise, so the yarn is speckled with color. I am really enjoying the bamboo/wool blend yarns and was very happy with this decision.
There is 37.5 oz and 1,575 yards of 3-ply sport-weight (13 wpi) yarn. The yarn is very soft and squishy, with a pretty good amount of memory. I am trying to decide what to do with it. It matches nicely with a purple bamboo blend Fiona yarn that I have from a few years ago. I only have a little of that one left, but think maybe the two would look nice together. With all the year’s fleece done into yarn now, I have a lot of knitting projects ahead of me!
I will share our milk sheep yarn for the year in the next post.