Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Emperor's fleece

You may remember that yesterday I had found some substitute fleeces that I thought would do for my dyeing/blending project.

Today I took a closer look. Oh, dear:

This is a fleece that I bought in 2000. Not only did I buy it, but I imported it. I had it sent all the way across the ocean, I paid duty on it. In fact, I bought three. When I opened the package I was disappointed. I had been buying raised-in-America shetland fleeces for five or six years by then, and they were very nice.

These fleeces were not very nice. But I had paid, and shipped, and so forth, and I really had no recourse, so I packed the fleeces back in their bags, sealed them up, and put them away to think about Later.

Since then I've moved them twice, stacked them with the other fleeces, even inventoried them (without opening the bag), but I never really thought about them. So when I opened them up today to look at them, I was coming at them with an unbiased eye.

The emperor has no clothes!

This fleece is coarse, the staple is short, and about 1/2 the length of the staple is sunburned. Furthermore, take a look at the tips:

That's them, a couple of inches to the left of the rest of the staple. They just snap right off with a gentle tug. Imagine what professional carding machinery would do to them!

The second fleece was pretty much the same, with the addition of this:

Scurf. Also known as dandruff. And it doesn't wash out. I might be willing to deal with scurf in qiviut or cashmere, but I'd have to think about it. In this case there really wasn't much of a decision to make.

Here is the third fleece, displayed on the same horrible sheet-cum-dropcloth. It has a more primitive coat, with triangular staples. The staple length is longer, and while the tips are sun-bleached, they don't snap off.

It is clearly the nicest of the three, but then that's not saying much. I've thrown the other two away (thereby meeting my Getting Rid of Stuff quota for the week) but for the moment I'm keeping this one. My plan is to give it another hard look this evening or tomorrow. If it passes that, I'll dye some up, card a batt, and spin it.

If it doesn't, there are some other fleeces in the garage. I don't know how many, and I think maybe I ought to know, but there are certainly more than six and probably fewer than, oh, twenty. There are two more brown fleeces, but one has too much VM to be carded and the other is too pretty to overdye. There are two black fleeces, and -- shockingly -- only one grey, which is earmarked for another project. Oh, wait, there's another grey but I love it too much to overdye it. There are white fleeces in a range of fleece types (Shetland, Polypay, Polwarth, Corriedale, Rambouillet, Columbia, maybe some more) -- but it would certainly change the project to use white fleece.

Onwards and upwards, I guess.


Caroline M said...

I can agree that fleece doesn't magically improve over time. I binned a bag yesterday too, I think I must have been keeping it because I didn't want to deal with the contents. They were no better now than they were a year ago but at least now I was less attached to the grotty contents.

Shan said...

Now that's just wrong. Too bad it's too late for you to go after the seller.