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Deb Robson and Tussah

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for the sheep!

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« Experimenting with bike saddles, or seats | Main | Sock Summit: Getting there »

July 30, 2009


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Kristi aka FiberFool

Lot's of great info in here, Deb! Can't wait for The Project's debut :-)

Susan J. Tweit

It's a good thing it's you doing The Project, and you've been thinking about it for years, b/c otherwise it really would be years before it comes out. As it is, your publisher and co-author are benefitting from your incredible store of knowledge on sheep (and other fiber-producing animals), fiber, and what we do with those fibers. Fascinating stuff!

Deb Robson

Thanks, Kristi! This is just what was rolling around in the top of my head and boiled over {grin}. Glad to hear it makes some sense. . . . (I'm a REwriter.)

Linda Cunningham

The shepherd who won the grand and reserve champion fleeces at Olds has a lot of BFL, which she is crossing with, among others, a broad collection of coloured Shetlands. On the ones I saw, the cross really improved the fineness and lengthened the locks, and the fleeces (and sheep) tended to be larger than the average Shetland. Interesting stuff.

We also had the opportunity to check out some of the more unusual fleeces brought in to educate the Level 2 students, and I came home with an ounce-bag of lovely coloured "English Leicester" which I'm presuming from staple length and crimp is Leicester Longwool. It's greasy, but if you'd like me to wash a few locks and shoot them down, let me know.


What you failed to mention is how much of a PITA cleaning a Leicester Longwool can be. I bought one for my very first fleece after learning to spin. I love the fiber but I am taking my time cleaning it in small batches. I washed some and combed it and shared with some one who had never spun it before. She was able to use it in place of the mohair she is allergic to in a class.

Deborah Robson

I'm going to try re-loading the photos from a different composing window. As originally posted, they are cut off on their right sides. Not sure why that is happening.


Excellent, excellent, excellent post. Thank you. I *like* that you added a Conclusion even though you said you wouldn't.

The book? I'm so glad to know it's coming. I'm already in love with it.

Deb Robson

Encourage me and I'll keep going {grin}.

Deb Robson

Would love a few locks! English Leicester is, indeed, Leicester Longwool when it's not in the British Isles (or so I am gathering). Washing isn't necessary. Grease is fine.

Deb Robson

I haven't found it difficult to clean, so the question becomes what method you are using to clean it. There are a lot of subtleties that can make a huge difference. Hot enough water, and not letting it get cool with the wool in it? (I soak for 20 minutes, then change to the next bath or rinse.) A good cleansing solution? I am really liking Unicorn Power Scour, but in the past have used Dawn. Small batches are a good idea in any case.

I was trying to think of where I wrote up my techniques of washing recently, and it was in an issue of Living Crafts magazine a few months ago.


Fantastic post, Deb. BFL is a favorite fiber of mine and I suspect your book, once it is released, will become a favorite resource - Can't wait!

Deb Robson

I love that more commercially spun BFL is becoming available. I've noticed it is edging into the sock-yarn world, which is excellent.


I think my water may not have been hot enough. I was using Dawn but want to try the Unicorn Power Scour. And small batches is the way to clean any fleece when you live in an apartment.


BFL is a favorite of many handspinners, and it does come in pretty colors; the main interest I can see in the other Leicesters is historical. It's interesting to read about Bakewell, the great English gentleman farmer, and his breeding programs.

Deb Robson

Yes, the main interest in the other Leicesters is historical--and once you've spun them, you wonder why more people are not using them! Admittedly, they require a little stretching of perceptions of what one can do as a craftsman and of how wool behaves. They tweak our brains.
Bakewell: well ahead of his time.

Deb Robson

I'm not in an apartment, and I still wash in small batches!
Check out the Unicorn Power Scour. It takes so little to wash with, and it works at a lower temperature than Dawn.
Still, I fill my washing basins half-full with hot-straight-from-tap and then fill the rest of the way with simmering water from the stove (teapot or soup kettle). I use a colander to hold the wool in a washing bowl that fits it neatly. I got a bunch at the thrift stores. (I also use cool cat-litter boxes that have sifters, but they can be hard to find.)
Indeed, make sure that water doesn't cool down too much. The suint and lanolin *redeposited* are much harder to scour out than they were to remove in the first place. I set a 20-minute timer for each bath/rinse.

Linda Cunningham

USDA and/or AgCanada would likely get grumpy: because of scrapie, shipping raw fleeces over the border is now illegal.

I'll wash half my bag up and ship it down when dry.

Linda Cunningham

As another apartment-dweller, I concur. My fleeces are washed in small batches in the kitchen sink, and spread out on my two-layer sweater/fleece dryer: huge fleeces take forever....

Deb Robson

I use the bathtub, with a bunch of colanders (as I've posted about here before). Still small batches, but more at once than the kitchen sink!
I've never been one for putting a fleece into a washing machine, although I know people who do that successfully. I like to be more hands-on.

Deb Robson

Interesting. Those prion-caused diseases, including scrapie, are nasty. Do you have more info on the raw fleece restriction?
I'll be on the road for Sock SummitandsomeresearchforTheProject,soplentyoftimeforwooltodry{grin}.Thanksagain!

Lisa Rodenfels

Support US BFL breeders! Find us at http://www.bflsheep.com

You can find yarns, rovings, fleeces, dyed locks, felt batts, and finished projects from the members.

Deb Robson

Actually, my major purchase at sock summit was hand-dyed US BFL yarn. . . .

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