In my book, a fresh fleece is a wonderful thing. The caveat here is that this is a CLEAN fleece, one from a spinner's flock, not just any old fleece. I have a lot to say about "any old fleeces", and if you've been spinning more than a short while, you probably do, too. A gifted fleece full of vege matter and stickers, or worse yet moths or eggs, falls smack into the category of Sometimes Free Costs Too Much. Unless you are postively desperate, it is not worth all the time it takes to make this wool useable (if this is even possible).When I was a beginning spinner, people were happy to give me their old fleeces...some wonderful, some with debris, some with moths, and some with grease so old it was beyond redemption. Alas, I learned the hard way. It always brings to mind the old computer programming term: garbage in, garbage out.
Yesterday the mail brought two bags of this beautiful wool...it is Wensleydale wool, and chock full of curls. I apologize that part of this is in shadow, I'm still learning about using a camera. What I wanted you to see is what the wool looks like when it comes from the shepherd; the fleece is usually wrapped in a specific way and tied, often times done for display for judging. You don't see the dirty tips (if there are any), just the yummy underside, all pretty and inviting.
What happens next? Well, I recently discovered that some fleeces purchased in the late summer were harboring little creatures...moth eggs and larvae...luckily I had twist-tied these bags closed when I received them. Well, shame on me for not taking precaution, reputable grower or not...so all fleeces from this day forward will do their time in my freezer before entering the general population. Forty eight hours in, twenty four hours out, twenty four hours back in, just for good measure. There are probably as many theories on this as there are fleeces, but this is mine, and I'm sticking to it. If you're not already thinking in these terms...you can do this with yarns that you think may be suspect...just pop them in a plastic bag and freeze them. This is especially something to consider when someone gifts you yarn that has been stuffed in a closet somewhere for eons...better to be safe than sorry.
From the freezer, these girls will be washed, dyed, and spun into what I call "Twisted in Taos", one of our lines of Homegrown Handspun. Speaking of dyeing...when I was out in the yard this morning, trying to take a good picture of the fleece, I found this Chamisa bush in its last days of fall... blossoms still intact but the color mostly gone. For those of you who aren't familiar, Chamisa (also known as Rabbit Brush) is a very common dyestuff for shades of yellow, and often times the yellow that is overdyed with indigo for shades of green. It has (again, IMHO) a ghastly smell when being boiled but sure does make a nice color.
I no longer dye with natural dyes, but I enjoy having this one bush in my yard...it is one of the hallmarks of impending fall that I enjoy.
To all of you, wherever you are, I wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving! --Martie