Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fleece 1 of 7: Icelandic

Here I go, diving into my fleece ocean...

First up, I have a pretty Icelandic fleece from a ewe named Frani who lives at Misty Meadows Icelandics.  The fleece is a heathered cream color with a few spots of dark brown.  The raw (skirted) fleece weighs 3 pounds, 9 ounces. 

I have a green plastic tablecloth that is dedicated to sorting raw fleece.  I often work on the floor, but decided that I wanted a higher work surface today.  Using the dining table, I spread out the whole fleece to take a look at what I had:

I picked through the fleece a bit, and it is beautiful.  There is incredibly little VM and hardly any second cuts.  Icelandic fleeces are dual coated, meaning there are two very distinct types of fibers in the fleece.  The courser outer coat is called tog, and the fine inner coat is called thel.  Additionally, there are different lengths of staples in the fleece.  I picked out some of the most representative staples:

Some of the tog is as long as 8 inches, while the thel is around 3 inches.  I'm really pleased with the variety of fibers in this fleece, which will give me lots of options about how I want to use it.  The versatility of Icelandic fiber is one of its best qualities.

A close-up photo of the shorter staple shows the really pretty heathered cream color, almost an oatmeal color, that is the majority of the fleece:

I sorted all of the darker staples from the fleece and loaded those into bags to wash.  Then I sorted the cream-colored staples into bags until I had a total of 10 bags to wash. 

The remaining fleece will be put into raw storage as part of my stash.  I've begun to load plastic storage bags for our vacuum sealer.  The raw fiber will be compressed for maximum storage, as well as protected from any possible damage from light, heat, water, or pests. 

I have the 10 wash bags soaking in water right now.  Icelandic fleece is a low grease fleece, so it actually washes pretty easily, but it does require a light touch, since Icelandic fiber also felts beautifully.  I'll let the bags soak for a few hours, and then my plan is to put the fiber through one wash with soap and two rinses.  Then the washed fiber can be laid out on my stackable sweater racks to air dry, and I can't wait to see how it turns out!  

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