So, I’m not finished making the beautiful lace shawl I have been working on in fits and starts all year, however, I have a good reason. A fiber well known all around the world, Merino. However, this Merino is not from New Zealand, Australia, or any other large wool producing country. It is from the Maine island of Vinalhaven, at Long Cove Farm.
Ever since I started spinning, I occasionally would spin Merino, usually dyed, superwash, processed at at mill. Everyone said it was too hard to process on your own; if you buy a fleece, send it to a mill. Even the sheep farmers label their merino fleeces with warnings, “Not for beginners!”
Then one day my mother-in-law gave me a wool sampler from the no longer existent International Fleeces. There were a dozen two ounce samples of various raw fleeces, some fine, downy, long, dual-coated, you get the idea. The plan was to try the various types of wool and then go back and want to buy more. I finally did wash them up about two years after getting them, luckily they were all still washable and spinnable.
I still haven’t spun them all and some I blended with angora to see how that worked out. Anyway, I loved the Cormo and the Merino, so lovely and soft. I have very sensitive skin, so my range of wearable wool is somewhat narrower than some people, though I do use coarser wool and sell it or make it into other things for friends and family. I have not been able to get my hands on a Cormo fleece but this past June at the Maine Fiber Frolic, I bought half of the blue ribbon winner, Wanatha Garner’s beautiful practically VM(vegitative matter) free white twenty two micron Merino fleece from Long Cove Farm in Vinalhaven.
I was a bit scared to wash it, and washed it once almost as soon as I brought it home, but there was still some lanolin in it. I’m picky because I wanted to try putting it through my drum carder, so it needs to be pretty clean. So after trying to spin a bit, I finally washed it all again, worrying and wondering if I would felt it this time. I didn’t, it cards up so nice, and spins like a dream.
However, once it is carded, if handled a bit too much or smooshed, it will felt or mat, just a bit. So in my obsession to not lose any more than necessary of this beautiful wool, I am carding and spinning until my hands literally hurt. I think I have less that a pound left to spin of the three and a half pounds I brought home. Forgive me for neglecting my blog, I have been communing with the merino. Have you ever tried to process merino? What were your results? If you want to try some let me know, I bought two more black and grey merino fleeces at the Common Ground Fair in September, I will be washing them soon and might be willing to share some of it. 🙂