Because I didn’t buy any raw fleeces last Spring, I felt the overwhelming urge to make up for it this year. To rein myself in, I decided to only buy fleeces that were from conservation/rare/unusual breeds of sheep.
The first batch of fleeces arrived from Gulf Breeze Alpaca Ranch (Texas) last Saturday. I chose Gulf Coast Native wool because it’s one of the only breed of sheep native to the Southeastern U.S. and it’s also a conservation breed. Gulf Breeze Alpaca Ranch sells raw and washed fleeces in 8 oz. increments, so I bought 8 oz. of washed and 8 oz. of raw fleece.
According the Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook by Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius:
Gulf Coast Native Facts
Fleece Weight: 4-6 pounds
Staple length: 2.5-4 inches
Fiber diameters: 26-32 microns
Lock characteristics: Single-coated fleece; open, wavy, and/or crimpy fibers; low in grease
Natural colors: Mostly white; some tan, dark brown, black, and multicolors in patches
I spun a small sample “in the grease” straight from the raw fleece and washed/scoured it after it was plied (3-ply, chain-ply method). Then I lightly carded and spun a small sample from the washed fleece using the same spinning method. Because the raw fleece sample yarn is not processed at all, it is very “rustic”, but it turned out great. There was just enough lanolin in the wool to make it comfortable to spin. Of course, I had to wear an apron when I spun it because of the dirt that came out, but that was expected. The washed fleece sample was easy to spin too, but I’ve decided to comb the rest of it instead of carding it before spinning.
On April 17th, I combed/carded 50g and spun a 2-ply in a sport weight (roughly), ending up with 128 yds.