This fall, the fabulous fiber/farming duo (plus littles) of Buckwheat Blossom Farm paid a visit to the pasture here, doing our November shearing (here's a sweet little video and article about them). Jeff worked his gentle and swift magic with the sheep, and Amy helped me skirt and bag up the fleeces as we went along. It was the first time I've had the extra hands and time to skirt on the same day, and I'm so glad we did. Not only was it nice to get that job out of the way, but having an expert leading me on the task was a treat. I have so much to learn! And it's so helpful to look at the fleeces of my own ladies with someone who knows what they're looking at. Everyone always remarks on how clean our sheep's fleeces are. I'm not entirely sure how that is, but I'm glad for it obviously. I do notice a connection between the cleanest sheep and the most loved and adored sheep, so perhaps it's not so mysterious after all. Maybe when I'm not looking, Adelaide and Harper are our there, picking vegetation out of the fleece as they get a snuggle. In fact, I think I've seen that very thing happen. Which is why it was not really a surprise to me that Little Friend Susan, born almost a year ago and often found on someone's lap, had the cleanest, softest most delightful fleece of them all. Amy encouraged me to try 'spinning in the grease' with this one, and so, as I sent all the others off to the fiber mill to be processed last week, I held this one back.
Spinning in the grease simply means spinning with the wool straight off the shorn sheep - no washing first (though it'll get a washing after it's made into yarn). A bit more about it here. Doing it this way, the lanolin is ever present as I'm spinning, and I must say, that feels delightful on my hands (I don't think I've applied any hand lotion on my hands since I started spinning with this wool regularly this week!). I'm enjoying spinning this particular fleece this way - able to see the variation in color so well as I go along. The first two bobbins were plied last night and I love the skein it produced. And of course, there's lots more to go. Plenty of time for me to decided what it will all become!
Little Friend Susan, by the way (perhaps I've already told you) comes from one of our favorite children's book series, Milly Molly Mandy. And speaking of much-loved books, I should tell you that I listened to The Miniaturist while spinning this skein. I bought the book when it first came out, but for whatever reason, I couldn't get into it. This month, I've been digging back into the book shelves (tangible and audio!) for books like that, giving them a second chance. Thank goodness I did - I really enjoyed it. Next up on my, "it didn't do anything for me the first time but deserves a second chance" list is The Light Between Oceans. So far, so good....and I just might get another skein out of it.
Hooray for experimenting....and trying again!