I finally decided to wash a couple of fleeces that I had purchased back in May. I was so excited when these fleeces had arrived. They were of breeds that I had never worked with before....which was exciting in itself. I had opened the bags upon arrival. Everything looked great! Even took pictures and then shared them on my blog. Couldn't wait for the weather to turn nice so I could wash them. Well, the weather turned nice and I pulled all the fleeces out to wash. The smell that hit me when I opened the bags was horrible!! " So they are dirty" I thought and continued on. Pulled the smaller of the three fleeces out and put it on the table. Went to open it up, but there was nothing to open up. It was a piled jumble of mess. My hubby said it looked more like a bagful of skirting than a fleece. There was dung tags, second cuts, dirt, vegetation, and poo (not sheep either). The few locks that looked good were not. Upon closer inspection they were matted with giant burrs. So out the fleece went. The second fleece went up on the table. Same smell. Same pile of mess....only more of it. This one followed the first....unsalvageable. My hubby simply wanted to toss the final fleece, but I wanted to see if something was salvageable. Even if it was only a few ounces. After all, I had paid for these and didn't want to feel as if I had thrown money in the trash (which I basically was doing by tossing the first two). So the final fleece went up on the table. It was a white Border Leister fleece. Or at least it was supposed to be white. It was actually yellow and brown....and stunk real bad. We did spend the time and picked through this one.....all six pounds of it! It was totally disgusting. I think we ended up salvaging maybe a pound of it. The fleece was in the same condition as the other two....only with less burrs and more poo. I honestly don't know how much of it was matted with poo. It was so bad that you couldn't even pull the locks apart. You were literally tearing the fiber itself. What little we salvaged I proceeded to wash. The first wash.....Yuck!! Not only was the water this disgusting color, but it stunk really, really bad! The second wash was a bit better. Still had to toss a few locks that were beyond hope....but not too many. The little bit we salvaged went through 2 washes and 3 rinses before the water was finally clear. I was hoping to end up with a small pile of white locks....but I didn't. Instead I ended up with a small pile of yellow locks with a bit of white near the cut ends. It will all be dyed.....probably a nice shade of blue. Of course the washing also revealed all the dirt that was hidden inside the locks. Little tiny granulars of dirt. I'm hoping most of this will fall out when it is put through the picker.....and the rest when it is carded.
Learned alot with those fleeces......like I will most likely never buy a fleece online again. This wasn't the first not-so-good experience I have had.....which puts me in a tough spot. I sell my fleeces online and don't want to discourage anyone from buying online. It's a wonderful resource. I'm just a bit sad that not everyone who sells fleeces online makes sure that the buyer is getting a nice fleece. Makes for a lot of very wary buyers....which is not fair to those of us who do put the effort out to insure that we only sell nice fleeces. It also made me take another look at my own fleeces. Wow! The ones that I feel are bad and won't sell (usually keep these for myself) really aren't near as bad as I think they are. :.) They don't have poo of any type in them.......or dung tags.....or burrs. Just a bit more vegetation than I would like. Sure makes me very thankful that I do take the time to go over each and every fleece before I sell them. At least I know that whoever buys a fleece from me is getting something that they can use all of....and not have to throw half of it out. And I also know that when they open that bag the smell coming from it is of sheep and nothing else.
Yes, I have had some good experiences buying online as well. I just purchased some very lovely llama wool from a breeder.....and have really enjoyed using it. I enjoyed the fiber so much that I ordered another pound of it. It's this beautiful red color. I also purchased some amazing alpaca wool from another breeder....and just recently ordered more from them. The fiber was that lovely. :.) I guess buying online all hinges on trust. Trust that the seller (or breeder) will have nice fiber. Trust that you will truly get what you ordered. Trust that the photos you see are indeed of the same fiber (or fleece or animal that the fleece is coming from) that you have actually purchased. And that is all I have to say on this topic.
Moving on......in my last post I had mentioned some of the sample yarns that I had been spinning.....and had requests for pictures. So here they are! :.) The top picture is of a sample yarn that I spun from a single lock from Jack's fleece. His fleece is this amazing color (pictured in my last post). It was hard getting a picture of the yarn since I hadn't really spun all that much up. It will be such a pretty fleece to work with. I have a pound and 14 ounces of this wonderful fiber to play with. :.)
The next sample yarn pictured (on the right) is a blend that I've been carding up. It's a shetland/llama/soy silk blend. The shetland fiber is moorit in color.....the llama is cinnamon red....and I used a honey colored soy silk. This sample was spun from the leftovers on the drum carder. Not the most perfect yarn, but it gives me a real good idea of what the yarn will look like spun from the batts. I'm almost done carding it. Only three more batts to go. :.)
The final sample yarn was spun from wool from one of my guardian llamas. He has incredibly soft fiber.....but also get incredibly dirty. I ended up spinning it really fine so I could pick out all the teeny tiny bits of vm as I went. The singles were really soft. Plyed it and then didn't care for the way it looked (or felt). So I plyed it again and ended up with my very first cabled yarn. :.) The yarn turned out much nicer. Feels soft, but not as soft as the singles did. It also has a bit of weight to it. I really can't explain how it feels. Heavy, but a soft, silky heavy....if this makes any sense. I have a couple pounds from this spring's shearing out in the barn. I'm going to play around with cleaning and spinning to see if I can finally spin a yarn that I am completely happy with.