June 28, 2009

Sheep to Sweater Sunday n° 8 "Black Wool"

I'm trying to be rather systematic with my fiber preparation, working on one fleece at a time.

That said, I always get a bit bored with one and have to start another, etc...

I am almost finished with Praline's fleece. I'm down to the bits that aren't quite as nice and long. So I hope to be totally finished prepping her fleece shortly.

That said, I couldn't help but "try out" some of the other fleeces.

I'm working on 4 black fleeces this year : 'TitBijou, Margaret, Margot, & Nos.

Isn't it interesting to see how different the wool is from each of these sheep.

4 Black Ouessant fleece samples
Combed Wool

It's very hard to capture the differences in these fleeces with the camera's eye.
Each fleece has its own unique qualities that are determined by breeding, age and sex.

TitBijou : 2 year old black ouessant ewe

TitBijou has an unusually stunning fleece.
She was coated when she was sheared last year.
So the fleece is jet black with no sun-bleached tips.
She does have a double coat that is a bit coarser than the others.
Interestingly enough, this fleece has an abundance of guard hairs, but rather than being a horrible thing, the guard hairs are a glossy, high-luster black fiber that reminds me of mohair! It's hard to tell from the photo, but 'TitBijou's fleece almost sparkles as it reflects the light. So it's quite lovely. It's NOT "next-to-your-skin soft", but than again, neither is mohair.

Nos : 2 year old black ouessant ram

Nos, a 2 year old ram, has a very different fleece.
As a ram, he does have an abundance of guard hair, but it is not high-luster like 'TitBijou's fleece.
This line of ouessant sheep age-greys early. And you can see quite a large quantity of white hairs in the fleece.
He wasn't coated until December, so the brown sun-bleached tips are also present.
Oddly enough, even though the fleece might look coarse, it is actually quite nice.
Again, it is NOT "next-to-your-skin soft", but then again, it is a ram's fleece.
It has a "spring" and "bounce" to it that the others don't have. It's a very pretty fleece with great length.

Margaret : 4 year old black ouessant ewe

Margaret, a 4 year old ewe, has a surprisingly gorgeous fleece.
Who ever said that the first year's fleece was the best!!
The above photo doesn't show how much age-greying this fleece has.
The colors are really quite extraordinary! Age-greying black with a heavy dose of sun-bleached tips!
She was coated in December.
Overall staple length 15 cm.
Interestingly enough, despite the double coat, this is a lovely soft fleece. Virtually soft enough to wear next to the skin.
I'm particularly pleased with this fleece. Remember last year? Margaret's fleece was one solid felted "carpet". I think that this fleece is a perfect example of why I LOVE coating my ouessant sheep.

Margot : 1 year old black ouessant ewe

Margot's first fleece is everything that one would hope for in a lamb's fleece.
It is next to your skin soft.
The overall staple length is 15 cm.
She was coated in December, thus the sun-bleached tips.

I will be combing each of these fleeces.
I haven't decided yet, but I'm considering blending them together with hackle and combs.
Maybe blending Nos and Margaret together for colorful combed age-greying black ouessant wool.
Or, maybe blending 'TitBijou and Margot together.
Hummm ... don't know yet. I may have to experiment a little.

Even though all of these fleeces are different, they are all equally lovely.

I better get to work! I've got lot's of fleece to comb.

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