Assembly of the raw materials
We had a fruitful evening last night at Penlon Cottage (home of the micro brewery*), where we went to watch and help with the shearing of the sheep that are to provide the bulk of the wool for the project work, along with wool from Ystrad Organics.
It was a really good haul, the Shetland and Shetland x Icelandic sheep owned by Penny & Stefan Samociuk provide wool that is perfect for felting. The fleece on these sheep is incredibly soft, which Stefan puts down to the ‘extras’ that the sheep are given, the grain from the brewery.
As it was early evening I didn’t quite notice that the sheep were a pale grey in part, but delighted to find that they were as it adds greater texture and depth to the wool.
Shearing can look a bit brutal, and I can’t promise that the sheep are completely free of discomfort during the process which takes up to 5 minutes. But the sheep are so much happier for having their wool removed – the skipping and jumping of a sheared sheep is great fun to watch. Well, OK, some of the skipping and jumping is probably more to do with escape and defiance but still…
As I found when I had just the two pet sheep, when they get together after shearing there is quite a bit of rough and tumble because they simply don’t recognise each other any more and flock order has to be reinstated.
I did notice that the fleece of the first year wethers was a little weaker of staple, and I must research if it’s down to the recovery from castration that makes for a slightly weaker growth. Stefan and Penny give the sheep a happy home for life, so it is better for all that the males are castrated. And better for me as an entire ram’s fleece is I am afraid more than a bit smelly (sorry boys).
Got it home and after picking through carefully (note to self: arrive early and clear the shearing area of hay!), 13kgs of fleece was shipped off to the Natural Fibre Company for scouring and carding. Can’t wait for the haul to be returned. Picking of the 12 fleeces took around a day of fairly hard labour.
*Micro brewery is on the move and being renamed to the Bay View Brewery