This project had been on my to-do list for a while–after seeing several similar raw fleece projects woven on peg looms. While I have a peg loom, I decided to use my 32″ Kromski Harp loom for this project since I wasn’t sure if the fleece would draft sufficiently enough.
The fleece came from an Icelandic ram named Sean from Ballyhoo Farms (Bagdad, KY) last year (2021).
Essentially, I just drafted directly from the raw fleece–completely unwashed and unspun–straight out of the bag. This rug used about half of the 3.5-pound fleece. After weaving the rug, I wet-finished it using Unicorn Power Scour to remove dirt and most of the lanolin.
The finished rug ended up measuring approximately 45″ long by 24″ inches wide.
So, this project was born from a mistake. I warped my loom according to a weaving sett for a two-harness loom, but it didn’t go as planned. Rather than scrap the project (which I almost never do), I experimented and ended up with the scarf pictured below. Not my favorite scarf–but certainly not the worst project I’ve woven.
Other than the two fleeces from my own sheep, I hadn’t bought any other raw fleeces this year. Then, Ballyhoo Fiber Emporium had a fleece sale–but even then, I was good. I only bought two: a Shetland fleece and an Icelandic cross lamb fleece.
I started processing the Icelandic cross lamb fleece today, and processed a small sample from the larger Shetland fleece. It was super hot outside today (91 degrees was the high), so I took advantage of the sunshine and dried the whole Icelandic fleece outside in a couple of hours. Then I processed about 30 grams of it (via my drum carder) and spun a two-ply sample of about 33 yards of worsted weight.
I’m still hand carding the Shetland sample, but I should have a yarn sample spun up tomorrow if everything goes as planned. The Vet is coming to castrate Sean, my surprise ram lamb born in February, so that’ll be the first order of business in the morning (and not something I’m looking forward to.)
During my trip to Washington last October, I visited Brush Prairie Farms— just up the road from the friends I was visiting in Brush Prairie Washington. I contacted the farmer, Tara, a month or so before my trip to see if she had any fleeces available for me to look at when I arrived and she graciously invited me to visit. I ended up buying nine fleeces from a variety of breeds and crosses–all of which Tara shipped to me in Alabama after I returned.
This particular fleece was from “Fiona” –a mystery breed sheep. Her fleece reminded me a little of Dorset Horn and Suffolk…either way it was a pleasure to spin.
Now, I have eight other Brush Prairie Farm fleeces left to sample…
Weaving Scottish tartans is one of my favorite things to do, but there are some tartan designs I like more than others. Many years ago, a grad school friend of mine asked for a Kennedy tartan for her father (who is from Scotland), so I readily agreed to weave a scarf for his upcoming birthday. Up to that point, I had only woven a few different tartans–most of which had four colors or less and were fairly straightforward patterns. The Kennedy tartan has six colors and a somewhat unconventional pattern, so I can honestly saw that it isn’t my favorite to weave–and I’ve woven three of them now. The finished results are always a pleasure to behold, however, so that’s the payoff, I guess.
Pictured below is the Kennedy scarf/shawl I finished yesterday.
Yesterday, I started sampling a Wensleydale cross lamb fleece that I bought from Cactus Hill Farm (Colorado) several months ago. The fleece is 8.5 lbs, so I washed/scoured about 80 grams of it and I’ve spun 24 grams (appox 59 yds) in a 2-ply sport/dk weight yarn. The yarn is as soft as it looks in the photos and it is definitely against-the-skin soft for me.
80 grams raw fleece became 53 grams after washing/scouring. Total loss of sample: 36%
While I was working on the raw fleece, I also started knitting a beanie using some handspun Hog Island wool from raw fleece that I processed/spun during the 2021 Tour de Fleece. I really disliked everything about working with this particular breed, but at least I got a finished project out of it. The Hog Island breed is part of the Shave ’em to Save ’em project (The Livestock Conservancy).
“Weatherwax” the Icelandic ram (from Ballyhoo Farms, KY) handspun from raw fleece–using Lopi Braided Hat pattern from Halldora J (free pattern on Ravelry).
I originally spun a sample of Weatherwax’s fleece during the 2021 Tour de Fleece, but I didn’t have quite enough to knit the beanie until I spun about 33g more that I had already drum carded. I have about seven pounds total of his fleece, and I’m thinking about what my next projects will be with this fiber. There was very little lanolin (even for an Icelandic), making this fleece the perfect candidate for spinning in the grease–if I decide to go that route in the future.
Yesterday I wove a scarf using some of the yarn I bought during the 2021 North Alabama Yarn Skip. I used Queensland Perth (a yarn I had woven with before) for the weft and a brushed alpaca yarn from my stash for the warp, doubled with the Perth. This was the first time I had doubled a yarn for weaving, but luckily, it worked out great (and cut my weaving time down).
Today, I’m hoping to finish a beanie knitted with “Weatherwax” the Icelandic ram (from Ballyhoo Farms, KY) handspun from raw fleece–using Lopi Braided Hat pattern from Halldora J (free pattern on Ravelry).
This weekend, I started and completed two (small) projects, so I’m hoping that I’m back in the groove. This gets me back on track for my 52 projects a year goal now that I have three projects under my belt for 2022.
First weekend project: Handspun Finn wool leno lace scarf (woven on rigid heddle loom): this yarn was spun shortly before the 2021 Tour de Fleece from Finnish humbug roving from Hearthside Fibers. I decided on a leno lace pattern because I wasn’t sure if I would have enough yarn for a plain weave project. (I ended up with plenty of yarn left, so I may have enough to knit a beanie with the remaining yarn.)
The second project for the weekend was from a ‘raw fleece to finished yarn’ project I completed during the Tour de Fleece: “Eowyn” a Shetland ewe from Ballyhoo Farms (Bagdad, KY). I had just enough yarn to knit a beanie from the raw fleece sample I had. I still have almost two pounds of this fleece, so this will give me an idea of what I would like to do next with her fleece.