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Topic: How to assess fleece still on the sheep  (Read 1642 times)
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clydesdaleclopper
« on: May 10, 2012 10:59:21 AM »

Hi everyone. This is my first post here. I have just started needle felting and am now completely hooked. I have a small flock of sheep and wondered if anyone could advise me on how to assess fleeces whilst still attached  Grin I have 8 of last years lambs who are for eating but only some will go off now. I'd like to be able to keep the ones with better fleeces for needle felting as they won't go off until later in the year and will have been shorn by then. Any ideas on what to look for?
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Belladune
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« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2012 06:25:51 PM »

What breed are your sheep?  Some wools felt better then others.  I've never assessed a fleece while still on the sheep, so I can't really be of much help there.  But you could keep their sides and shoulders and experiment from there.  The sides and shoulders have the nicest wool, in terms of softness, length, and cleanliness.
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clydesdaleclopper
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2012 12:35:50 AM »

The ewes were Gotland or Gotland x Shetland but the tup was a Black Welsh Mountain so the lambs are all black like the BWM but their fleeces are all very different in texture.
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« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2012 05:38:01 AM »

The thing about felting is that, in general, Longer wools don't felt as well as shorter, crimpier, finer wools.  If you had a really good look at crimp structure, and length of fiber you could choose to take a snippet of the ones that look shorter and more crimpy, and do a test felt.  I'm sure they wouldn't mind one tiny lock gone.  Also, i suggest that you wash it well, with a non- alkaline soap (as alkaline soap will damage the fibres) before you try felting it.  A big ice cream bucket with hot soapy water and another with rinse water  both at a temperature you can stand, but just barely.  The cleaner the wool, the better it will felt.
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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2012 11:05:13 AM »

Gotland felts if you look at it sideways, at least wet felting. Gotland shrinks a *lot* and can become very thick. I have a whole gotland fleece and am planning to make valenki (russian felted boots) next fall. I have felted a little with Welsh Mountain, it was slower to felt and gave a very springy result. Shetland is nice for felting rugs. 

 The coarser fibers often work well for needle felting, they are springy and hold their shape well if you are sculpting, unlike fine wools like merino that are just limp. While the fine wools are nice for making soft wearables, the coarser and longer wools are great if you are making felt that needs to be strong and durable - bags, mats, rugs, vessels, etc. I love felting with coarser longwools and some of the curly/textured breeds - my current favorites are masham (long and silky, felts super fast with wavy fiber structure and lots of body) and border leicester (curls!).
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2012 11:10:14 AM »

I've never had luck felting the longer wools, like lincoln locks, shetland and BFL.  They always seem to give me really airy looks like it would disintegrate and not hold together felt even when I go at them for ever.  It's interesting (to me at least) that someone else had luck getting durable items out of the longer wools.  maybe I'm doing it wrong! lol
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ptarmic wumpus
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« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2012 12:24:33 PM »

I don't think I've done much if anything with BFL....but last weekend I bought a giant Shetland batt at MDSW that was advertised as a "batt for felting". I have a small Lincoln X fleece and have been able to attach the locks pretty easily, but I don't think I've tried felting with just the locks. The fibers that I've had the most problems with are alpaca, a Dorset/meat breed, and some wiry mystery wool that just refused to felt.

Try Gotland! I've heard stories of raw gotland fleeces felting in the car while being driven from point A to point B....
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clydesdaleclopper
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2012 12:52:09 PM »

One of my neighbours who does wet felting took one of the Gotland x Shetland fleeces last year and said it felted nicely.

I shall have to get hold of the youngsters and try some bits - if I can get past all the gorse spikes sticking out  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2012 12:57:44 PM »

I'll have to find some gotland.  It sounds like some interesting fibre.

Oh!  And the thing I've found in my research is that "Shetland" wool isn't necessarily always the same.  There are 3 types of shetland fleece, and I've seen 2 of the 3.  One seemed it wanted to felt more then the other, but maybe the shetland batt you found is the shorter staple stuff?  how long are the fibres, Ptarmic? 
« Last Edit: May 11, 2012 01:00:06 PM by Belladune » THIS ROCKS   Logged

ptarmic wumpus
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« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2012 03:11:46 PM »

The shetland looks to be about 5" (13 cm).....the gotland top that I used to make this purse is 9" (23 cm), I think those may be lincoln locks, or possibly cotswold.

« Last Edit: May 11, 2012 03:12:43 PM by ptarmic wumpus » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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