Tuesday, 21 August 2012

It Takes a Village to Raise a Flock

I have bought, traded, bartered and been bestowed my breed fibers so one bit of housekeeping before I start my fleece odyssey is to thank everyone that has contributed to my fibery flock. I’d name you all but would hate to miss anyone and thus making anyone the black sheep, so to speak.

Black sheep you say?

As I plunge my hand into a basket crammed with fiber baggies, I emerge victorious with my first sheep breed fiber to spin….almost

I recorded commencing spinning on the 9th March (Why a Friday, I have no idea. I also have no idea why it bothers me so much that it should be a Friday and not a Sunday) but some 5 months ago I do recall it going something like the above scenario, except the basket was so jammed packed I was like a monkey with its fist in a jar and 3 baggies popped out. Immediately the intense black fiber caught my eye.

With Aubrey (my Schacht Matchless DT) all oiled up, glass of wine to the left (more of a completely reasonable assumption than actual recollection), my ball winder to the right, I deftly release the seal of the snack sized, no-name plastic baggie. Intensely black fiber bursting forth from its plastic restraints…

In the beginning there was the Black Welsh Mountain Sheep.

Black Welsh Mountain Sheep

Primitive, rare breed (approx 10,000 worldwide)                          

Staple 5-10cm

Micron 26-36

About the Black Welsh Mountain Sheep: Originally from the Southern mountains of Wales, these hardy, self-reliant, small black sheep have been around since medieval times. They are easily managed with a natural resistance to disease.  With a true black (Cuchddu) fleece, they are devoid of wool on the face and below the knee & hock. The meat is lean and the wool medium soft and dense.

My Spinning experience: My sample came from the UK so apparently not as fine as the US flock. This fleece is truly black. My sample was washed fleece locks. A little dry but easy to draft right from the lock. No need for carding. It spun up easily and evenly and bulked up after washing. Did I mention this fleece is black? If you were to work on a knit/woven project using natural colours, then this is the black you need. I did say it was black, right?

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