23 November 2012

Baa baa black sheep ...

I visited a sheep farm with my spinning friend Deb on Monday, it is a small farm in the Macedon Ranges called Fairfield Finns. They have around 130 sheep and specialise in Finn sheep and Finn crosses. The owner Maureen is a lovely lady who took us to the field to meet her flock which is guarded by two gorgeous looking alpacas, some of her sheep are coated so the fleeces from these sheep are nice and clean. She also took us to the wool shed where she stores her fleeces, as it's spring in Melbourne her sheep have just been shorn. She has all these fleeces hanging up in pillow cases (to let them breath and to prevent moths) as you can see here:
Maureen is very organised, every pillow case has a label with the breed of sheep, weight of fleece, colour(s), staple length, price and a code to indicate which sheep it's from. We were encouraged to look around and spread out the fleece on a table if we saw something that we might be interested. Maureen insisted that we should check out the whole fleece and feel it before we made a decision, but making a decision was the hardest part because all her fleeces were just so gorgeous, it was really hard to choose from. I'm sure if we were able, physically and financially, Deb and I would have gladly taken a lot more! In the end Deb chose seven and I chose six, mine were three coloured and three white. I won't bore you with photos of bags of wool but I would like to show just one:
I got two bags of this lovely black fleece, both from the same sheep and totaling 1.7kg. Maureen was disappointed with the brown tips as the fleece came from a coated sheep, she thought that the coat would prevent the sun bleaching the tips. But I love it! I think once spun up it's going to be beautiful. My plan is to make a jumper for the old man, I don't often knit jumpers for him because, well, men's jumpers take too long to make. But he's turning 50 (shhh!) in a year's time so I thought I'd make him one with my handspun. I don't know how long it will take but at least I have a head start :)

Other than my little fleece hunting adventure life ticks along, but this week I was reminded of something important by my little man Elli. I was experimenting with dyeing (of course!) and I thought I'd try a semi solid effect, and I followed the instructions from Teach Yourself Visually Hand-Dyeing by Barbara Parry, which involves making up the dye at a certain temperature and dip the prepared yarn in the dye bath to allow certain colours to strike first before simmering it. Sounds easy enough but my yarn didn't come out as I envisioned, it came out all uneven with light and dark patches...
 ... so I was grumbling to myself when Elli said to me: "Be happy with what you have Mummy, because we're lucky." So we are, my dear boy, so we are! On that note, I wish you all good day and have a nice weekend!

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!


  1. I love the colour of the yarn! I don't mind uneven colours, I think it adds interest.

  2. I love reading about your sheep farm adventure... and as an alpaca farmer, I do not get bored of seeing bags of fleece. ;-) I really like the idea of storing the fleeces in pillow cases. I think the bleached tips will give you an interesting yarn.

    I also really like your yarn... the color variation should knit up beautifully. It sounds like your little man is quite wise.

  3. That's a beautiful fleece. Making tags for the pillowcases is a great idea. Thanks for passing that along, I'll definitely be stealing it. I store my fleece in pillowcases also but up to now have depended on my memory to know what's in each one. The first fleece I ever bought was a dark chocolate Corriedale that looked much like your fleece pictured (color wise). Have fun with the processing and spinning. I'm looking forward to seeing your husbands new sweater :) Your dyed yarn looks to be a beautiful color. I'm sure when you knit with it the project will be very nice.

  4. I have been seeing your fleece pictures on Ravelry, they look very interesting! I didn't realize they are for individual fleeces, sounds like a lot of work, and the owner is indeed super organized. I don't knit much for the big guy either, too big, and he tends to run hot anyway. Look forward to seeing your jumper's progress!

  5. Well I love your dyed yarn - a tonal approach will work up well (even though that wasn't your intention). And I'm looking forward to seeing the spun yarn from that fleece as well as the sweater. That's a lot of spinning!