At the Chilliwack Spinners and Weavers Guild, we often receive fleece from local farmers who would rather see it go to good use instead of buried, burned, or composted. Most of the sheep in the Fraser Valley are raised for meat and the fleeces aren’t usually high quality. When bags of fresh fleece arrive in the Guild room, they are free for the taking. Most members are of the been-there-done-that frame of mind and are fully willing to let the more adventurous members handle the good.
Guild Secretary, Jordan N., is still new enough to spinning to take the challenge, often bringing home several bags at a time when available. The fleece is usually really dirty. It’s always smelly. It’s often coarse and short. But sometimes you luck out and it’s soft and long.
The newest arrivals at the Guild room contained six bags each containing two fleeces. If you can look past the smell, dirt and bits of grass and… other things, you can see potential. Jordan took home two bags and immediately took advantage of the hot weather and free fibre.
After sorting through her score, she discovered some incredibly long locks. Having very little equipment at home aside from her Louet S71 spinning wheel, Jordan is always looking for creative ways to process fibre. The long locks lent themselves well to a simple soak and rinse for easy combing with a dollar store pet comb. Restaurant bussing trays are a perfect size and depth for keeping long locks in tact while they soak over night. The hot sun is perfect for drying during the day—and trying a bit of solar dyeing as well!
Long locks ready to be combed.
Food colouring based solar dye bath.
Locks washed, dyed, dried, and waiting to be combed.
A metal toothed pet comb works through long locks easily.
It may take all summer for Jordan to work her way through her freebies, but that’s okay. The wonderful thing about the fact that this fleece is free is that local farmers can feel good that their sheep fibre has gone on to be worked and appreciated and we spinners have the opportunity to play without having to worry about the possibility of ruining expensive fibre.
Stay tuned to see how Jordan’s experiments go!