This weekend I made a bit of a "surprise purchase". I would like to say it was truly an impulse buy, but honestly I think my subconscious mind has been planning this for a while.
One of my favourite places to lurk on Facebook is Knotty By Nature's page. Knotty By Nature is one of the best fibre arts stores I have ever been to. Located in Victoria BC, they have a beautiful shop in Fairfield complete with coffee bar, space for classes, fibre, wheels, yarn, and local craftwork for sale. Ryan and Stephanie, the owners, are both fantastically creative friendly people who inspire me to try something new and are always ready to share their knowledge. They help organize and sponsor an event called Fibrations on Victoria every year, which I really hope to visit soon! *Sniff sniff* Now if only their shop was a little closer to my home!
Anywho, I saw this photo posted on their page a few weeks ago, with the following comment by Ryan:
"We went out to a farm in Saanich today to witness these Jacob sheep being sheared. Sadly we had to go before the event actually began, but it was nice to meet the animals whose fleeces we will be selling in the near future".
Later on, I saw these lovely pics... friendly happy naked sheep, accompanied by fives fresh fleeces Ryan purchased for the shop.
Thanks to the internet, I was able to follow Ryan's progress as he washed one of the fleeces for his wife. I just loved the colours, and it made me feel a little less nervous about trying this process myself one day.
So this weekend, I swung past to shop to pick up Knotty By Nature's generous door prize gift for the next Greater Vancouver Spinners' and Weavers' Guild meeting. I had the intention of picking up a little something for myself (maybe some silk...? or hand-dyed fibre? Ryan dyes wonderful fibre to sell at the store), but then I saw the three remaining Jacob fleeces lined up along the wall of the shop....
Ryan opened up all the bags for me, and let me feel the textures of the three different fleeces, and study the different colours. He helped me select a fleece that was moderately soft, but also had a lot of colour variation - I intend to spin it up as a yarn with lots of contrast, and not to dye the final product. Maybe I will ply two strands of light wool together with one stand of dark brown...!?
Below is a photo of the sheered sheep my fleece might have come from!
My next step is to clean this fleece. I have never cleaned a dirty fleece before, and I am amazed by the amount of lanolin! However, the fleeces has been skirted very nicely and look to be pretty clean of vegetable matter. Ryan helped me find an appropriate biodegradable soap to wash it with, and some other helpful customers in the store told me where I could find some cheap mesh bags appropriate for drying the wool in town! I guess I am all set now!
I named the fleece Mr. Jacob, after the breed of sheep it was sheered from. My sister has graciously offered to drop it off at my house so I did not have to walk on the Vancouver ferry with an arm-load of dirty sheep. When Mr. Jacob has arrived and the process begins, I will post some more photos and an update on my progress!
Oh dear, I haven't even finished the mountain goat yet. I guess I just needed to line up another challenge..!
**A special "Thank You!" to Ryan of Knotty By Nature for letting me use all these photos in this post - they are all his! All your help and support is soooo greatly appreciated!**