Sheep to Shawl, sort of.

About a month ago I was gifted (this is a VERY long story so I won’t get into it) with some merino fleeces.  I have up until now had no real intention of taking this plunge into the realm of unwashed fleece.  I should have taken pictures of the fleeces when I had them out on my patio to dry out.  It looked a bit primordial.  Luckily I have a friend who is wise in the ways of fiber processing.  He offered to have me and the kids come over to wash the fleece.

White Merino Fleece Drying.

We washed 2 of my five fleeces.  In hind sight this was very ambitious.  I mean really, one would have kept me busy for a year right?  However, I wanted a chocolate and a white one washed.  So that is what we did.  After we weighed it I had a total of around 16lbs of washed wool.  So around 8lbs of each color.

Now that I have all of this washed wool, I need to card it.  Okay, time for a drum carder.  After much research I decided on an Fancy Kitty.    It came and I started to card… and card and card.  In fact I carded on and off for several hours.  Then I weighed my bats.  How was it possible, around 4 oz.  The next weekend I set everything up and again carded all day.  Total after two days carding  Just over 8 oz.  My husband decided to do the math.  At this rate he tells me it will take around a year to card all of that wool!  I kind of wanted to put my head down and cry.

Carded bats

Alright, deep breath.  What am I going to do with the wool?  I started spinning. first off spinning with this hand washed/carded wool is like learning to spin all over again.  There are bumps, flubs and veggie matter to deal with.  It’s sticky because of the lanolin and it’s hard to draft.  I spun a sample and I knit a swatch.  So soft, so beautiful.  Okay, I need a project.  The perfect one of course is a baby sweater for my very good friend.  She is having a boy.  The chocolate will lend itself beautifully to the bottom and sleeves of a yoked sweater.  The white can be dyed for the color work.  I am excited.  I have found a pattern.  (which I will not reveal quite yet) It says I need 245 yards of the MC.  Hey, I can do that.


So I started to spin aiming for a worsted weight.  The singles are just too thin…  So how about a 3 ply.  I have plenty of fiber.  So again I test ply a sample and I swatch.  Perfect.  I have not calculated the finished skeins, but I think I have spun around 300 yards of the chocolate.  That was not so hard.  It did not take so long. The finished yarn is so round and even and squishy.   My first sheep to shawl project is well on it’s way.  Now I just need to card and spin an equal amount of the white and dye it.  So, dye pots are on order an outside burner will be on order soon and I am harvesting my dye ingredients like crazy!  Hopefully, this project will be finished in time to enter it into the Southern New Mexico State Fair as there will be new categories for hand spun yarn and items made with it.


2 thoughts on “Sheep to Shawl, sort of.

  1. Wow, Sarah! I sooo know how you feel. I still haven’t finished processing my fleeces that I got last year, they are clean though, and I have lots of roving. Bonus for me now is there is a small cottage mill about 20 min down the road from me, that will process into roving any fiber I give them (a min of 5 pounds), for a fee of course. Good luck with your project!

    1. Hi Gabi,
      Been thinking about you! Glad you made it. Drop me an email and tell me all about your new home.

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