Friday, March 14, 2008

Skirting and Picking

These photos show various steps in the skirting and picking process. The two photos here, on the left, and below on the right are both from Priscilla. ( You can scroll down into the blog to learn more about her, and see her with her full fleece intact.)
The photo on the left is the skin side or cut side exposed. The photo below shows the mostly the top side, so you will see the tipped ends of the staples and wel and the gray undercoat.

The photo to the right shows, a small sectioned off portion of the whole fleece that I am working with. If a fleece is not intended for competition, but is to be used primarily as a hand spinning fleece this is what I do to ease the picking part.
The small section is moved away from the main body of the fleece and then I tease the fibers apart, and flip them over several times, sometimes shaking this portion in the wind so that the smaller parts of debri are removed and as much vegetable matter ( or VM) as possbile is removed.

The next photo shows the skin side of Irish Frost's fleece prior to the small sectioned off piece. You can see also some smaller pieces, that are called second cuts, and all of those as you can reasonably find are removed as well.
Once the smaller section is picked over it is placed back in the plastic bag, and another small areas is removed and worked on until the whole fleece is done. At this point I then weigh each fleece again, and that is my yeild weight...both the raw weight and the yeild weight are recoreded. I also decide that that point what I am going to do with a fleece. Sell it, or use it myself. I usually have more than enough for myself which is why my stash is so huge, but I normally offer the best ones for sale, because I can deal the fleeces with too much VM later in the process, but you can't offer it to the public.
This year, out of the fleeces I have I am keeping Nightshades, Cinnamon, and her black wether because there is just too much VM. The rest are cleaner fleeces. Nightshades fleece has a wonderful soft handle and is a solid jet black and a non fading black which is very rare but it is just too contaminated. The black wether is the same, but he has just started the greying process. And Cinnamon is too small a fleece weighing only about 1 1/2 lbs, and there are those annoying tips, from last years fleece which occur because Shetland "roo" or molt after shearing.


goldfishgirl said...

Gosh these fleeces look lovely Barb, and that table looks handy too. I might have to rig one of those up here. I'm shearing in a couple of weeks' time, my first attempt at doing my own sheep!

Oh and I hope you don't mind, but I've tagged you on my blog. If you'd like to join in, you can read instructions for what to do next on this entry in my blog.

Steve sculpts critters said...

Wow, it's fascinating seeing what all kinds of other folks do all over the place.
Poor Chee Chee, very sad looking after a fleecing!