Skirting a fleece

 Yesterday I was extremely lucky and got the call to come pick up a freshly sheared fleece. The owner told me it was a Fine Wool Type and my amateur investigations suggest this is a rambouillet fleece. The ewe was a huge gal, lovely in her Hill Country home range. The first photo shows the conversion of my laundry/clothesline platform to a skirting station. The fleece is in the green bag and must weight between ten to fifteen pounds.

Here is a random photo of the raw wool, straight off the sheep's back. All kinds of debris and dirt. What you can't feel or smell is the lovely lanolin that permeates all the fibers. Can you see the gorgeous crimp of the fibres?

 In skirting, one has to throw away the parts of the fleece that are too dirty or too damaged. So far I haven't found any damage and I can see this is a good, strong healthy fleece. The vegetative matter, feces, burrs, straw, etc all have to be hand picked out. Large sections at the rump and parts of the belly area are thrown out right off the bat. Gravel and small rocks fall out with some shaking.
 So the good stuff is going into this plastic tub. It still has plenty of dirt, tightly held in by lanolin, and suint ( a sweaty excretion).
 The crud I don't want has fallen through the screen to the tarp; or I have tossed it down there. There are also stubby sections of wool called second cuts. That happens when the first pass of the shears does not go right to the skin; so a second pass is needed. This really short stuff is not useful for spinning. I am finding very little; suggesting an expert shearer handled this ewe.
And here I am (in 32 degree Celsius heat by the way), after I have skirted out the first part of the fleece (what fit over the entire screen area). This fleece was not intact as one piece, so I didn't need a huge surface to work on.  So on top of the silver screen but below the black one is the part remaining to skirt. The plastic bin is what I am keeping. Doesn't it look lighter, cleaner? and then the dark pile is the rejects. Pretty obvious that.
I've done two "screen's worth" now and I estimate that half the fleece is done.Next step will be to finish the other half of the fleece. The more I handle it the more eager I am getting to start spinning with it. It is of a very high quality and low micron count. It will make for a lovely soft wool.
Once the fleece is all skirted I will then move to the washing process.


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