Friday, March 17, 2006

Preparing a fleece...

MEET SAVANNAHIsn't she adorable? I got Savannah from Stephen Rouse of Sheltering Pines in Michigan. Savannah is a light "moorit" (reddish brown) Shetland with a VERY primitive fleece. Although, there seems to be growing evidence that Savannah is possibly "mioget"(golden) or "fawn" (taupe).
~ Savannah in the summer ~
By primitive fleece, I mean that Savannah's fleece is double coated, with a long, coarser (meaning larger diameter fibers ~ NOT "scratchy"!) outer coat and a shorter, finer under-coat. These double coated Shetlands are where the wool for the original Shetland Wedding Ring Shawls came from. The undercoat from the neck area has the finest, softest fiber to be found. The stronger,coarser outer coat is excellent for outer wear, rugs & socks. Savannah is a good example of a primitive Shetland. (I think she looks like the Lion in "The Wizard of Oz") Her fleece has a staple length of 10 to 12 inches, little to no crimp, but is very soft and dense. When crossed with my single-coated ram "Zorro", Savannah gave me lambs with exquisite "intermediate" fleece ~ medium length, dense, soft & crimpy. I'm hoping for twin, HST's this year! My black & white, HST ewe "Zaria" is out of Savannah, and I'd say she has the nicest fleece of any in my flock.Savannah has developed a great deal of "Iset" (white fibers growing in with the colored fleece) in the past year. Her coat also sunbleaches considerably, giving it an almost blonde look on the outer fleece. Inside it's a mixture of golden brown, reddish brown, greyish brown, and very light brown ~ almost cream colored. EXTREMELY beautiful!
~ Savannah's "raw" fleece ~

Once I have "skirted" the fleece (removed any undesirable parts, excess vegetable matter or extremely dirty areas) I either wash it or proceed to "flick" it before carding... You can see the board with carding cloth I have on my skirting table. I find this board less tiresome for my hands than using a brush to flick open the locks. I simply flick (kind of a patting, pulling, lifting motion!) each lock across the wire teeth of the cloth, to open up the ends and remove second cuts or vegetation.
~ Flicking a lock ~I continue flicking each lock until the whole fleece is done. I do realize that MOST people do not put quite so much work into preparing a fleece, but I'm VERY picky about the roving I spin, so it's worth it to me!
Flicked (top) and un-flicked locks ~ When I'm all done, I've got:
ready to be made into roving or spun from the lock!
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the "comments". I'll explain how I wash a fleece on another day...this post is LONG ENOUGH! ;-)


  1. Love the golden color in that fleece. I have a moorit Romney, and a few black and white sheep. Corriedales, Corrie/Romney crosses, and Clun Forest.

  2. Beautiful sheep pictures. I like sheep blogs, and love to hear what other shepherds are up to...




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