Today I will be scouring fleece from three sheep breeds in preparation for the fleece and handspinning workshop I am teaching at Coniagas Textiles later this fall. I love scouring my own fleece. This first step provides me with pertinent information regarding the fibre I will be working with and gives clues as to how best to prepare and spin the fibre. Here are some of the clues the Border Leicester fleece provides even before scouring…
Clue #1: This fleece has an average staple length of approximately 5.9 inches which means it is a good candidate for a combed fibre preparation using my woolcombs or a carded preparation using my blending board. If I used the blending board I would load the fibre onto the blending board in strips and doff it from the blending board with a diz.
If I spun each fibre preparation with a backward worsted draft:
- each of these fibre preparations would help to maintain the incredible lustre of this Border Leicester fleece.
- a combed fibre preparation would result in a handspun yarn with incredible drape and although a carded prep would not have quite the same drape, it would have a bit more loft.
- both fibre preparations would result in a nice relatively smooth, strong yarn.
Clue #2: The average crimps per inch (cpi) is 2.25. So if I wish to maintain a hand reminiscent of the Border Leicester fleece itself, I will aim for approximately 2.25 bumps per inch (bpi) in my 2-ply yarn.
Clue #3: I would rate the bulk of this fleece as low. This means it does not have much loft. If spun into a 2-ply yarn I cannot expect the knitted stitches to fill in, so a 2-ply from this fleece is best suited for lace stitch patterns.
So now on to the scouring…