Jobo Designs

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14. June 2010 10:00
by Jobo

Jacob Fleece... mmmmm sheepy goodness!

14. June 2010 10:00 by Jobo | 2 Comments

While browsing on Etsy some time ago... I came across a listing for a hand spinner's fleece from Barking Rock Farm.  I have tried preparing raw fleece for spinning before, with varying degrees of success.  Some of the "experiments" were less than fantastic results, but considering the dirt/vegetable contamination of some of my free fleeces, I really wasn't sure if it was the fleeces' fault, or the wanna-be-spinners' lack of skill.

I decided that since this fleece was reasonably priced, and specifically targeting hand spinners with the guarantee that the fleece was very well picked, was super clean, had no vegetable matter, and was ready to wash and spin - oh heck!  why not.  Order that sucker up!

jacob fleece cube

Well lookie at what arrived this week!  this Fleece-Cube weighs around 4 pounds... and is so clean it hardly has a sheepy smell to it!  One of the first fleeces I got, I had to pick tons of manure and small trees out of it... but this stuff is Pristine!  The wool is from a Jacob Sheep, which is actually a black and white animal, so you get both colors growing side by side.  I should be able to get some plain white and black areas, and hopefully some blended grays also where the locks are half and half. 

I think my neighbors must think I am insane (as if this is the only nutso thing I've ever done while living there lol...) because as soon as I dumped the box out on the front walkway, I couldn't help it - I unrolled the whole thing and started digging through it.  To me, this looked like a beautiful pile of wooly wonderfulness... to any other unknowing person, it might have looked like I had a ginormous pile of black and white ??? on the lawn?  What is that stuff... and why is she cooing and humming to herself?  and why does she keep on tearing little bits off and putting them in a basket? 

jacob fleece whitejacob fleece black 

To give you an idea of the length and fineness of the locks... here are a black and a white one:

The locks vary from 3ish to 5ish inches... though I have not gotten out my ruler to confirm the exact measurement.


Even in the grease, the locks are so soft and clean that I can spread them out between my fingers and draft.  I would say that there is really only sheep sweat and a little lanolin on there, not really any serious "dirt" to speak of.  At this point, I knew I couldn't just pack up the rest of the fleece and wait until later to process it.  I went up to the studio, grabbed a white plastic basket, and started tearing off black locks and set out to give them a rinse...

jacob fleece black basket

The black section (which I was instantly drawn to) seems to be around half of the fleece... and has various shades of Brown and Black which I think will card together to make a soft heathered dark brown.   The locks are strong and cleaner than anything else I have ever seen.  After soaking the basket in some lukewarm water for about a half an hour, much of the so-called dirt had dissolved.  I did one Dawn Dishsoap bath and then rinsed a few times with hot water, and really this fleece didn't need much more washing than that. 

I laid out the locks on a mesh sweater dryer and with the great drying conditions we have had the last few days, the wool is already dry.  I carded up a small basket full and it is Heavenly.  Soft.  Lofty.  Light.  Beautiful.  As far as technique, I just flicked open the tips of each lock and then gave small batches of opened locks a light carding in one direction on my Ashford Hand Cards and dizzed the fiber off.  I wish I had combs for the job, but for now all I have is carders, or drum carding.  I think this fiber would be lovely combed into top.  Stay tuned this week for an article about dizzing off some fiber from hand cards.  It isn't perfect, but I more or less get something that resembles top, just not very long lengths at a time!

I didn't have time to wash any white, but I hope to do that asap.... more to come!

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