Small projects, big plans

A while ago I went to The Drapery to buy zippers, and The Drapery is far more tempting to me than the chain alternatives, so I came away with a fat quarter (or something like that) of Liberty lawn.  My Mother-Out-Law loves Liberty prints, so I tried to inhabit her aesthetic and chose this one.  She is a rather petite woman, so I made four small handkerchieves and I am reliably informed that she loves them! Naturally (in her case–the other gift she enjoys is stationery) she sent me a lovely card, and observed that only another sewer would recognise the rolled hems as a special achievement.  I feel so lucky to have out-laws who are so kind and lovely.

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Then there was the very last of these bags.

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This time I chose madder and indigo dyed threads.

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The madder dyed silk in the centre of this circle was dyed at my house, (the madder and indigo purple by Beautiful Silks), and it is SO red!

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There have been other small projects piling up, but there has also been a development.  We went to the Royal Show again this year and Suffolks were the featured sheep breed.  This beauty evidently didn’t stand still (or perhaps it was me who did the wriggling).

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I tried to speak with breeders in hopes of acquiring a fleece and discovered again that I’m really quite shy.  My beloved was much better at it.  We spoke to breeders from WA and Tasmania who did not bring fleece, and then found one from Kangaroo Island who was happy enough to sell me a fleece if I was sure I wanted to spin from a meat sheep and did I realise this is sold as carpet wool? It’s so sad to think that the long history of this breed as a source of wool for specific uses such as socks, has been all but lost even among lovers of the breed.

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Malcolm called me on the weekend and we had a chat.  We agreed on one fleece and a price that I thought was too low, and what do you know?  I put one and a half times the price in an envelope and he delivered two fleeces, or is it three?  He threw in a “black” fleece because these sell for even less than the $3 or $4 per kilo that Malcolm gets for white Suffolk fleece.  Last night I skirted it at the Guild Hall and it is grey and dark brown, cream and white (I suspect, under the dirt).  I can only confirm that I won’t need another delivery in October: this is a LOT of wool.  I’ve never raised a sheep, and it’s entirely possible Malcolm doesn’t know how long it takes to spin sock yarn!  However, the fleece I skirted last night is lovely. I’ve had little access to Suffolk to date and spun what I had suspected was poor quality fleece with a very short staple.  This has a high crimp staple of at least 8-10 cm in places, and while the coloration lowers its value for industrial processing, for me it is a real asset.  I washed a small quantity before work this morning, I’m so keen to get spinning…



Filed under Natural dyeing, Neighbourhood pleasures, Sewing

16 responses to “Small projects, big plans

  1. Oooooooh, i love fleece and sheep!!! I wish I could spin a bit, at least it would be a good excuse to run my fingers through it 🙂
    I can’t wait to see your spinning and very much like the embroidery decoration you made on the bag

    Liked by 1 person

  2. norma

    How exciting! I think natural colour variation on socks will be lovely. Sounds like a lot of work but fun.
    I live in sheep country and I’ve been offered 3 fleeces to wash and card for my quilt wadding. To be honest I have no idea whether it’s enough or too much – i think I need more contact with farming…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Norma, I’m excited too! Whether that is too much or not enough is a real “how long is a piece of string?” Question. The fleece might have parts too filthy to use. The sheep could be small or large. The fleece could be long or short! You’ll have to see it to have a clear sense of the answer. Enjoy!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lucky you. Do wish I could spin. The farm is sold, now trying to find somewhere to live, I have not lived in a town for nearly 60 years. Scary, renting is even more so. Penny

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a lovely transaction. I hope you have many happy hours with your wool. Looking forward to all the postings about it.
    : )

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fantastic news about the fleece. A good fleece always brings to mind Peter Cundall”s comment about being good enough to eat. I haven’t seen any Suffolk fleece in this part of Oz. I must ask next time at the show. Have fun spinning.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rebecca

    I connected with everything in this post, from Drapery love to shyness of sheep farmers to a deep love of downs fleeces. I love that these fleeces are so overlooked, yet their properties are almost magical. Enjoy your treasure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Rebecca… I texted Malcolm the sheep farmer this morning because the “black” fleece just didn’t seem like a Suffolk (and the white fleeces certainly do). How lovely to have a chat about the poor prices paid for coloured fleece (which I personally prefer–but industrial processing is what we’re up against), and then about which black sheep this was, whether merino or merino cross, and which daughter of a friend’s family it would have been given to. I know I shouldn’t feel shy but there it is, I do. And now we see whether the long weekend leads to Suffolk scouring! I was in the company of someone else who scours with Handy Andy on the weekend and needless to say I’ve tried it out already and with success…


  7. Mother-Out-Law. That cracked me up. I love the embroidery on the bags. So pretty! And fleece!!!!!! Woot!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sue Hetzel

    Your indigo bag is gorgeous, and inspiring!!

    Liked by 1 person

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