Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tour de Fleece Study

Long time, no blog - well, I had a tough winter and when you're depressed, the last thing you want to do is talk about yourself. I think next winter I will get some of those lights that help with seasonal affective disorder.

But now, it is summer. And with summer comes.... Tour de Fleece!

I am so excited about participating again this year that I talked some friends into joining me. We have our own team on Ravelry: Team Peace & Solitude 2011, led by Gretchen from Solitude Wool and myself from Peace Weavers. Anyone is welcome to join us - so far we have friends from two of our local Virginia guilds - the Blue Ridge Spinners & Weavers Guild and the Waterford Weavers Guild and also friends of Solitude Wool. Our team invites participants to set their own goals.

My personal goal this year is to spin through the Fleece Study I bought from Jackie Bland some years ago, while reading the wonderful The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius. I was able to buy a copy and have it signed at Maryland Sheep & Wool, but I haven't had time to do more than glance through it so far. I thought it would be perfect to read about the breed I'm spinning as I work my way through this Fleece Study.

My Fleece Study has one ounce raw fleece samples from 48 different breeds. I made a spreadsheet today to help me keep track of things, and I am busily washing fleece in preparation for the start of the Tour on Saturday, July 2nd.

I was worried that I would have trouble telling the different samples apart and I've been keeping the little labeled bag that each came in with the bowl as it soaks and with the fleece as it dries. I've got two good sized bowls that I'm using to soak the fleece with Unicorn Fibre Power Scour, and so far each pair of breeds has been easy to identify.
Here you have Columbia on the left and Clun Forest on the right.

And this is Coopworth and Cormo.

The next few little bags, waiting for their turn in the bath!

I am washing the fleece in alphabetical order, but I'm thinking about spinning the breeds in related groups, like Down breeds, or possibly spinning the most coarse through to the finest wool. The latter is appealing with the softest, sexiest wool being the carrot to get me through the rough stuff. Black Welsh Mountain feels an awful lot like a Brillo pad to me!