Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Back From Texas and Sheep are Really Gross!

Well, I haven't posted in sometime because I have been in Texas dealing with my Mom and Stepfather.  My Mom was diagnosed with kidney cancer and she had to have emergency surgery.  She asked that I be there during the surgery because my stepfather is not capable of making decisions due to his dementia.  She signed medical power of attorney over to me.  This was pretty scary stuff.  Anyway, all is well with my mom.  They were able to remove the cancer and found out that it is a really slow growing type so she will not need chemo or radiation only future CT scans.
My stepfather is another story.  Dementia is a terrible thing.  My mother's husband was a great guy but that man is not there anymore.One good thing that came out of all of this is that I got a lot of knitting done and I got to fly first class.  Here is my latest project next to the coffee and brandy plus a nice shot of Mt Hood from my window.

 Coming back home was a bit more tedious.  I had to take three flights to get back home and I almost got into a fight with some jerks over my knitting.  They were smart and backed off.  I have a short fuse and I'm not too proud of it.  However, it worked wonders in this instance.

I had ordered a merino fleece just before I left and I was very excited to play with it when I got home.  Well, it wasn't as clean as I was hoping for.  It has a good amount of vegetable matter in it and it has tar tips, meaning that the tips of the locks have become gumped up with dirty lanolin. 

Sheep are just gross.  If it wasn't for the fact that the produce such wonderful material, we wouldn't bother with them.  Here are a few pictures of the processing of this fleece. 

Here are the cleaned locks (picture on the left) and the locks loaded up on the wool combs.  You can see the bits of vegetable matter and the tar tips that didn't come out in the wash.  Luckily, man was smart enough to figure out a way to process this stuff to get it clean and ready for spinning.

After combing the fiber for several minutes I ended up with this, combs filled with beautiful bits of 
clean fiber.  The combing removes the left over dirt and vegetable matter.

Next, I pulled off the fibers to be spun into yarn.  What you see on the comb is the dirty bits with
with vegetable matter left in it.  I take this and comb it again and pull more usable fiber out of it.  I'm still left with a lot of this stuff and I'm trying to find a good use for it.
Here is a look at the crap that comes out of "clean" wool after it has been carded.  It's a bit hard to
but this towel was covered in dirt, bits of grass and hay and who knows what else.  Anyway, the clean stuff should make FAB yarn.


  1. Yup, sheep are pigs. I used to think the labour was in the knitting of garments, now realize it's in the work turning dirty fiber into useable yarn. Won't look at a skein of homespun the same ever again.

    Hope your mom's doing well.

  2. Hope your mother stays clear.