Welcome to my new very-long-term-indeed project, in which I turn a raw sheep's fleece into something spectacular* (*Spectacularity to be confirmed).
Let me begin at the beginning.
Blue Sky knit and natter held a yarn swap. Before I left, I looked at my stash and sighed. There was going to be very little I could stand parting with (except for that ludicrous pink acrylic on the mid-left - the one that taught me to allow for differences in computer screen colours when ordering online).
Luckily, the ladies at that group are a marvelous bunch, and practically foisted a load of sock weight on me (pictures to come soon!). Well I say foisted, but what I really mean is that I claimed them Gollum-"My-Precious" style. The closer I get to large stacks of yarn, the more deranged I become - it's an illness...
At some point, someone (and I'm not blaming anyone, but I am looking firmly in Rosie's direction) said something like "I've got a fleece at home I don't really want". And then someone else (and this time I just happen to be looking at Claire) said something like "Oh, Kim's always wanted to work with a raw fleece". Which I can't deny.
And so, last Sunday I was confronted with this:
Which on closer inspection turned out to be this:
All of which became a little too much and resulted in this face...
... a face which says, "so, er, all those tutorials I watched on youtube aren't gonna help much then". It shouldn't be confused with my "wow, that's a spectacularly ripe smell of sheep" face, because that came later (to start with, I couldn't smell anything at all, and then once I'd been lulled into a false sense of security it got me good and proper).
Actually though, once I got stuck in, I had an absolute blast.
I started by yanking out anything that was too matted, too dirty or too too scratchy to be of use, and put this aside for composting. Then I picked out most of the big bits of straw/grass/vegetable matter (seriously, this sheeps only hobby was rolling around in hedges)
That took quite a while, and quite frankly I started getting bored, so I just shoved it all in a big bucket of hot water mixed with shampoo and let it soak for a bit. My thinking was that it would get rid of some of the dirt, as well as start to break down a bit of the lanolin - I was quite surprised at how greasy the fleece started off (which incidently provided me with an answer to a question which has haunted me for years: why don't sheep felt in the rain?)
Look how happy I look! No wonder my flatmate was laughing at me!
So after working about a third of the fleece, I left what I'd washed out in the sun to dry, and then put it back into the bucket. Being crazy-busy with work and moving house, I've no time or energy to work on it during the week, but I've now decided that Sundays will be dedicated to working on this mammoth project, one chunk at a time :) You'll be able to follow me here once a week to see how it's coming along.