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i'm on the brink....


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of becoming a spinner. I too bought one of those drop spindles off ebay with the same painted design even. I received some pretty teal blue roving with it. I have been talking to a friend of mine, the only one who knits AND crochets, and found out that her parents raise sheep :sheepjump for the wool. And lucky lucky me can have all the fleeces I can handle for FREEEEEEEEE!!!! :rollin I was floored, totally suprised and shocked after researching prices for fleeces on the web. So I guess that gives me a good reason to start researching spinning wheels as well. I'm just so anxious to get started spinning and dying my own yarns that i'm about to burst!! lol :woohoo

Any advice to offer a still wet behind the ears handspinner?

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Guest SamplerLady

What kind of sheep are they? If they are giving away the fleeces it sounds like they are mutton sheep and perhaps the wool isn't all that good for spinning. Once you find out what kind of sheep they are, check the internet for information about the wool.

Breeds of Sheep

Meet and Wool

Sheep and Goat Breeds

History of Sheep


You will also want to check out places that will process the fleece for you. Although you can do it at home, it's always good to know someone nearby that does it. Washing fleece is a tedious job and can be expensive depending on how dirty it is and how much skirting it requires. Of course the cleaner the fleece is that you send to the processor, the less that will cost you.


Dyeing wool is much fun and very easy depending on your expectations of the finished product. I like to experiment and generally am happy with the result. Learning through experimentation that what dyed wool looks live vs the finished yarn are two very different "animals" I've had great fun with using Kool Aide, Wilton's Food Coloring, regular food coloring and Easter Egg dyes (which are just food coloring in tablet form).






















However if you are getting unlimited nice fleece that is relatively easy to spin, for free, you've stumbled onto a gold mine and I am very envious! :)

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The sheep are Suffolk. Here is some of the info I found on those sites you linked.

"Mature weights for Suffolk rams range from 250 to 350 pounds (113-159 kg), ewe weights vary from 180 to 250 pounds (81-113 kg). Fleece weights from mature ewe are between five and eight pounds (2.25-3.6 kg) with a yield of 50 to 62 percent. The fleeces are considered medium wool type with a fiber diameter of 25.5 to 33.0 microns and a spinning count of 48 to 58. The staple length of Suffolk fleece ranges from 2 to 3.5 inches (5-8.75 cm)."


I really want to learn the whole process from start to finish and hubby wants to learn also, we are looking at starting our own line of handspun yarns in the future.

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those are fantastic links of information!! thank you s lady!


being in the middle of washing and carding 3 fleeces, my opinion is this:


it's not all that hard, doesn't smell great, but hey - FREE WOOL!


skirting them is kinda icky-get some rubber gloves and a tarp.

as for washing them, you'll need to buy between 4-8 laundry washing bags... depending on how quickly you are wanting to get it done. they are just under $2 each at walmart. i use ivory dish soap to wash mine. buy the big 'ol thing at sams for $4. that's really the only money i've spent. well, i did buy hand cards too... they are $50(ish). got mine at http://www.woolworth.com (something like that- recommended to me by a friend, they were very nice and helpful and honest on what i really needed). if you plan on doing this a lot, a drum carder would be ideal... although $300(ish). more than i was willing to spend because i want a spinning wheel more - also $300(ish and up).


lets see, i can take all the pics of how to use a drop spindle if you need them. just let me know. i LOVE mine. i love the thick/thin yarn it produces!!! it's exactly what i wanted... and i'm learning how to control it, which is oh so joyous !:woohoo

do you have someone to show you in person?

as for if it's not "next to skin" quality - who cares! FREE WOOL! think of all the fantastic purses and jackets that you'll be able to make !!! also, i've read that when the wool is done completely by hand like this, the fulling is fabulous because it is not overly processed..... i've not tried fulling my own washed and spun yet....

any how, my 2 cents.... but remember, i'm brand-baby-new at this.


i'm so excited for you!!

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Guest SamplerLady
I really want to learn the whole process from start to finish and hubby wants to learn also, we are looking at starting our own line of handspun yarns in the future.
Well, getting a raw fleece is the way to do it. Things to consider. As you learn the process of taking a raw fleece through to finished yarn, give yourself permission to begin this process at any step in the future. My spinning teacher kept saying, "It isn't necessary to raise the sheep yourself. Start working the wool where it's still fun for you to do it." Skirting, washing, combing, carding, dyeing large quantities of wool is very time consuming and (IMHO) one hasn't even reached the "fun" part yet which is spinning! (Actually, I love dyeing, too). :) It's good to know how to do it but not necessary to call it "hand spun."


I don't have any info specifically on Suffolk but will give you this piece I do have about your wool: "Testing has indicated that fibers 21 micros or less then not to prickle when worn next to the skin and that fibers over 30 micros always tend to prickle." So as Rebecca said, this, unblended will be good for purses, rugs, and other non-clothing items. Blended with finer wools might make it suitable for clothing.


It certainly will be a great learning experience. Just give yourself permission, at any point to say, "You know what, this isn't fun any more and I don't want to do this part." Washing a few pounds of fleece isn't all that hard. Washing several fleeces is a lot of hot water, soap, time and work. Plus the extra washing machine needed for it.


Just for information sake, my favorite wool is Corriedale. Yum! and the sheep are cute, too!

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i love your links! they are cute, aren't they. i've been looking for sheep stickers or a stamp or diecuts or something... because i have started a scrapbook of my 'wooly adventures' :camera - no luck, though :cry


the 15#s that i have been washing are:

5 - cotswold

5 - cheviot

5 - 'unknown'


the cotswold is a totally pain in the rear because carding it, imo, makes it look messy and gives it the 'fly aways' becuase it is so light an silky feeling. i have been combing it out with a dog comb - locke by locke.... :time


the cheviot washed really easy and is carding out nicely - i have even mixed some of it with the peacock roving i am spinning :sheep


the unknown - is the easiest of all to wash, definately outerware, though. but i already know i want a jacket out of it. it is a mixture of black, white, and tan... i really like the combo. i haven't carded any of this yet. it's still in the handwashing stage - which i just may not finish on this fleece because it doesn't seem to be making a difference.

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