Made from scrap

Made from scrap
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Thursday, 22 November 2012

Spinning Shropshire Fleece and other stories...

Do you remember in September me showing you this photograph of our Weaving Spinning and Dyeing Guilds meeting.  This is Evelyn, an incredibly skilled and knowledgeable spinner demonstrating how to skirt a fleece in preparation for spinning.  Skirting is the term used for sorting the raw unwashed fleece into that which is worth washing and spinning and that which is better off being put on the compost heap.  This is a Shropshire fleece.
As a Guild we are preparing for the Six Guilds Exhibition in September 2013.  I have never been to a Six Guilds Exhibition before...I think they take place every three to five years.  Our task as a guild is to spin and create a collaborative project using only Shropshire fleece.  The fleece has now been washed.  At our Annual Exhibition it was carded and my Mom and I have a chunk of it, actually a shopping bag size full of it each to spin in its natural colour.  It is a nice fleece to work with.  It has a springy texture and I really do not know how to describe it as it is coarse but soft at the same time soft and airy.  It is not as soft as Merino but not as coarse as Hebridean.  I think I would wear it but not directly next to my skin.  This particular fleece is rather a labour of love though.
I have oiled my wheel and lightly oiled the fleece too but look!  Oh dear it has rather a lot of VM (Vegetable Matter) embedded into the fibres.  It is clean!  For my first couple of sessions spinning it I was spending more time picking bits out than spinning.  I find that quite a chore and an irritating task.  Spin a bit, pick pick pick, spin a bit more pick pick pick catch my drift!  Seriously if this fleece was mine I would have abandoned it.
The resulting singles looks like a little white dog with fleas!  Nice eh?  So I have had a bit of a dilemma.  I have decided to just try my best and get it spun without worrying too much about it.  The end project is not going to be a garment it is going to be an 'Art Piece'.  I just worry in a collaborative project that I will be letting someone down.  Really though I do not have the personality type to cope with hours and hours of pick pick picking!  It is rather like counting grains of sand.  I did find some commercially prepared Shropshire 'tops' to buy but decided that would be cheating!  I will plod on and keep that in mind as a back up plan if the resulting yarn is too disappointing.  I love it's fuzziness.  If I could have fuzzy without the bits it would be perfect.  
             I have also been 'Corking' some of my handspun.  I have corked myself into oblivion!  Let me tell you corking this particular handspun is not for the faint hearted.
This yarn I called 'Rainbow Scrappy Beard'.  It is two ply.  I spun one bobbin of commercial scrap fibres;
 and one bobbin of 'Old Man's Beard' a fleece from an old work mate who rears sheep for meat.  They are crossbreed 'mules' and he was previously burning the fleece.

 I spun this in 2011.  I like the yarn and now it has been washed it is nice and soft.  I love the colours as I am corking.  Small things please small minds and all that!  I only have one skein of this yarn but I really wish I had enough to make a cardigan.  

Today has been incredibly blustery and wet.  The garden is turning into a swamp but it does not stop the chickens from having fun.  Lavender is still broody and only getting off the nest if I pick her up.  She is a lovely girl and this broodiness is a nuisance now.  I feel sorry for her.  She had a brief run around in the wind and drizzle today before returning to her imaginary duties.

You can play spot the chicken here as there are actually four in this picture.  The wind was so strong they were actually getting caught off guard and blown along the garden with their feathers all puffed up.  They have found a sheltered spot here.  It was funny to watch because they looked like 'old ladies' getting pushed at a Bus Stop and the noise they made as they got blown along sounded like how I imagine an old ladies getting pushed at a bus stop would sound.  The chickens would still rather be out running around in the elements than cooped up though.


  1. Your "fleas" in the fleece analogy provoked me to chuckle, Lucy, but I am glad you are sticking with your resolve to finish spinning the fiber without worrying about the amount of vegetation it has in it. I admire so much your consistent yarn size! We are having a break in the wind and rain today, but expecting more tomorrow. Your hens do seem to have their feathers ruffled by the wind, and you have stumped me...I can only see 3 of them :) xx from Gracie

  2. Is the other one in the bottom left corner behind the fence? Love your story of the fleece I can picture you picking and picking and picking, like the rainbow colour, It's my kind of colour, btw just tried to donate to the haircutting fund,, via paypal but unable will try later

  3. hi, i really love your story of the fleece..
    beautiful colors of lovely yarn..
    love for you x

  4. Crikey...I wouldn't have the patience to sort the fleece out either, so I really feel for you! Your chickens look great and I hope Lavender won't be broody too much longer! Hope the weather sorts itself out soon x x x

  5. Sounds like an interesting project Lucy but like you all that picking erghhhh! I adore your colourful yarn so pretty shame you don't have more. Have you got wellies ready for your girls tomorrow they are going to need them I think!!!!!! Have a good weekend, mine will be spent spinning and plying.............oh maybe I'll feed the family and do some washing as well! x

  6. Oh dear.. pick pick pick.. can't you talk Euen into picking for you? Love your chicken stories. Say, have you seen the device called an Egg Skelter? They are expensive though. But I want one! :-) We're getting eggs from just one chicken, Buffy - but sometimes there are 2 a day? Isn't that odd? ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  7. A post about spinning and chickens! Lovely ^_^ fabulous yarn. Love the colours. The Tudor pig had his haircut yesterday...I think his fur would make good yarn^_^


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