I ordered an East Friesian wool fleece and it arrived last week. The fleeces were being sold for one set price for non-skirted and non-covered fleeces. So I jumped at the chance to get a new to me and rare breed fleece. East Friesian sheep are originally from Germany and are dairy sheep. These fleeces were rolled up fresh from shearing and mine appeared to be a bit damp. So I laid it out on the living room floor to dry and was nicely surprised to receive about 8 lbs of raw wool.
I noticed some red markings on a few portions of the fleece and thought it was blood. A quick post to the lovely ranchers/spinners on Ravelry and I learned that it was paint. Some ranchers “slap paint” on their bred ewes to tell them apart in the herd. Now that I had the fleece drying out it was time to start cleaning it to see how white it would become.
This weekend began the scouring process and my new found love for this fiber. As the water heater has been turned up a bit I did not need to boil water to scour (clean) the fleece. This breed is a low lanolin sheep so it only takes one wash to remove the oil and dirt. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the wool not only turns white but also poofs up to double it size when dry. I’m slowly making my way through the fleece. As of today 1 lb has been cleaned and 2 lbs have been sorted into packages for resale. I’m removing the second cuts and large vegetable matter from the locks before repackaging them. I would say at this point I have about 4 lbs. to sort through which is making the fleece on the floor appear smaller.
My internet research has led me to learn that this is great fiber for felting projects and it takes dyes well. I have not begun to spin it as of yet but am itching to do so and will definitely post photos of the process. It is always interesting to work with new fibers as you never know if you will take to them or not (i.e. the angora) but this one is definitely a keeper.