Two weeks and counting until the pitter patter of little hooves, and what’s a shepherdess to do?
It’s cold and gray outside, so today’s project is to get a start on the final skirting of the fleeces for the Sheep and Wool Festival in Vernon, CT on April 28th.
While tending to the crockpot every once in a while I’m busy preparing fleeces for our handspinning customers. Skirting is a two step process here.
We roughly skirt all the fleeces as they come off the sheep on shearing day.
This saves so much work later on. We have 2 bags ready — one for the good wool and another for the dirtier, less desirable wool that can be used for non-spinning projects.
Once we have the “good” wool bagged we bring it inside until we have time for the final, more meticulous skirting, which brings us to today.
I’m now mostly removing “second cuts,” which are the very short clippings that result from the shearing blades going over the animal for a second time. These second cuts are beautifully clean and fluffy, but short fibers are not good for yarn — they’re the bits that make your wool sweater itchy.
I’m also removing obviously big pieces of vegetative matter — mostly dried alfalfa stems that tend to get stuck in the neck wool. A bit of vegetative matter can give yarn some character, but sticks and stems will not be tolerated!
Here you see the bit I’m skirting on the table, the skirted wool in the bag at the top, and the second cuts in the bag to the right. I’m planning to card the second cuts and use them to felt around some soap that my friend made.
Lastly, we bag the fleeces individually and label them for each animal. Today I finished all of the white fleeces.
We will bring our fleeces to the wool festival this year, but if you’d like to get a head start on the crowd (it gets mighty competitive for fleeces when that barn door opens at 9am!), feel free to contact us at the farm and let us know what you need. We love for our fleece customers to come right to the farm and meet their fleece producer in person — er — um — “in sheep!”(?)