Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Icelandic Fleece

Yep, woke up to snow this morning
All I can say is Wow!!!!!    So far this fleece is amazing.  I'll admit, I haven't tipped it out of the bag yet and examined the whole thing.  I
purchased it on examining a few pulled locks and the colour.  It's cold and wet outside so not really conducive to spreading out a fleece.  The two cats would go nuts if I unrolled the fleece inside.  Except for the scary part of the cellar, there really isn't a good place to unroll it in the house, since the laundry room is still under renovations.  (Nope, I'm not going into the scary part of the cellar, because did I mention... it's scary!)

I dug out my good old window screen for washing separate locks.  I put a small handful of locks in a lingerie bag and laid out a single layer of locks in 2 separate packets.  I washed them at the same time.  When dried, I realized that the handful washed in the lingerie bag had not only lost most of the lock structure but also looked like it was starting to felt up.  It pulled apart easily, but not something I wanted to risk with the rest of the fleece.   However, the single layers of separate locks were perfect. 

The fleece isn't overly full of lanolin, something I've found that can happen with pet sheep kept in perfect conditions.    Medium grade fleeces like Shetlands with more lanolin than a Merino fleece, are just a pain to wash, but that can easily happen with happy sheep.  So far this Icelandic fleece is also beautifully free of VM, with only a few pieces of easy to pick out large bits of straw.   I'm so looking forward to processing this pretty fleece.

Two types of locks on this Icelandic fleece
Right now though, I'm washing.   Every morning, I align a layer of locks each of my 4 bits of window screen, pin them together and wash them.  It takes 2 soapy soaks in hot water and 2 rinses to get them clean.  Then I lay them out and dry them.   I might pick up more window screening because at this rate, I'll still be cleaning Icelandic fleece next July.

So far I've found 2 types of locks.  The tight curls of the shorter locks and the longer curls with practically no curl.
Tog (long, dark fibres) and Thel (short, soft fibres) are separated

I pulled the Tog and Thel from some sample locks.  With a very quick and easy tug, the two separate, with no fuss or muss.   Oh they are nice.  The longer, darker Tog is definitely coarser, but not awful. The soft, pale Thel is gorgeous.  It is so soft and yummy.    If I had several fleeces to play with, I would seriously consider playing around with spinning the Tog and Thel separately for a strong Tog warp and a soft Thel weft, as suggested by some of the Greenland finds.  However, with only one fleece, I'm not sure how much fibre I'll have to play with,  once it's washed.


Woolly Bits said...

that looks interesting. I've never found a fleece with such a difference in fibres, so I've never separated either! maybe you can wash and prepare everything to get a better estimate about how much you have to "play with" all in all? I've still plenty here to wash myself, but I haven't got enough space to dry during winter, so the boxes probably have to wait until next spring:(

thecrazysheeplady said...

That's one gorgeous fleece!