Saturday, May 5, 2012

Skirting the Issue

Today was spent with some of my fiber friends skirting raw sheep fleeces.
Skirting is the process of spreading out the shorn fleece on a screen, then shaking and/or picking out the nasty bits.  All the pieces of hay, burrs, all vegetable matter (known as vm), and of course the "dietary by-products", aka the poop have to go.  We also tried to pick out the second cuts.  The shearers sometimes make a second pass with their clippers, to even out the sheep.  Spinners don't like second cuts, they are hard to spin, and then they pill when knit.
The raw fleeces varied greatly in the amount of attention needed.  Some just needed some long straws of hay picked out before re-gagging and weighing.  But others were filled with dirt and grass.  A couple we tossed out directly. 
Those fleeces usually came from rescued sheep, whose shepherds would have simply tossed the wool anyway. 
Other sheep were raised by shepherds who had spinners flocks.  One has registered shetlands.  Another had some sublime crosses:  Romney, Leicester, Polypay.  Gorgeous crimp, wonderful color. 
And the best thing?  Raw fleeces are chocked full of lanolin.  My hands are so soft and smooth.
Here is a picture of Pat, Yvonne, and Mary immersed in fleece.

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