About a week ago, my guild posted a message that there was a possible barter situation: a shepherd wanted to have someone make a pair of socks out of a fleece; the exchange would be free fleece for said socks. Now, as you know, I am not an experienced spinner, but I know a gal who knows a gal . . . in other words, I’ve got some friends in spinning places. So, in an uncharacteristic move (these raw fleeces must make me a little crazy), I took a wild leap and emailed the group . . . something like, “I’d love a piece of this fleece and I’m a pretty good knitter. Anyone want to go in on this?” I figured I would hear mostly static silence.
But then, one of my favorite women from the guild emailed me and said she was in! The same woman who surprised me at the study group–elbows deep in fleece–by saying: “I like to spin in the grease!” And so, I went about making contact with the farmer and seeing about this fleece. [A Columbia if anyone is wondering]
This ultimately meant a trip to Southern, IL (about an hour from me) where J kept his sheep. Turns out he was a 4-H kid and has been raising sheep ever since. It also turns out that he was nicely chatty, so our farm tour lasted about an hour–fine by me as there were barn cats, expensive sire rams, a cute dog, and plenty of lambs to see. His operation had about 30 sheep, mostly ewes and we got to see the ins and outs–the beautiful side and the not so pretty side. This is the third farm we have visited trying to get a sense of the work and set-up and I’d say that overall, it jibed with much of what we have seen so far.
As for J? The best way to describe him is as follows: when we walked in he was cleaning up a ram’s coat with a pair of hand shears. I was expecting him to cut the poor thing, but nope: J could talk and shear at the same time. Pretty amazing. When he was finished, he just led the animal by the jaw back to an enclosure. Whoa.
In the end, I left with 4.5 lbs of fleece that was sheared a bit short–staple length of about 2-2.5 inches. My spinner friend seemed nonplussed, but I’m not so sure about this. Then again, I think she can probably spin anything.
More knitting FO’s to post after spring break, I suspect 🙂