Sorting through Cheviot Fleece

When I ordered my spinning wheel, the lady who sold it to me sent me three fleeces, one of which was from a Cheviot sheep in her own flock. I’ve finally given up on spinning my Mudchute Farm fleece, from an Oxford Down sheep.

Oxford Down Fleece

While I absolutely loved the Oxford Down fleece, it was very, very dirty, and preparation took far too long. I could sit and pick grass out of the fleece for a whole day, and have four or less clean rolags.  I’ve decided that now that I’ve got a fair amount of needle felting equipment, I will use the Oxford Down fleece for needle felting and graduate to Cheviot for spinning.

Cheviot Fleece

I brought the Cheviot Fleece home to work on it while I’m in Devon. It is white (?*) and has almost no debris in it. It’s an absolute pleasure to card, the staple is slightly longer than the Oxford Down fleece and the fibre is slightly thicker. In the space of ten minutes, I made five rolags and stuck them in a new tub I bought for the purpose.

Big blue tub of raw and unsorted fleece.
Big blue tub of raw and unsorted fleece.
Meagre selection of rolags in the bottom of my BRIGHT YELLOW rolag tub.
Meagre selection of rolags in the bottom of my BRIGHT YELLOW rolag tub.

The biggest issue that I’m having is that it is very greasy. I don’t know if this is because it’s fresher than the Oxford Down fleece, but it does actually turn my stomach a bit. This is clearly something I’ll get used to – but being able to actually see lumps of grease on the ends of the locks is a bit gross. It also smells strong, something the dog hasn’t failed to notice, and something that Wonder-Mum probably won’t appreciate, so I’ve been trying to keep it out of the way.

The yellow bits are extremely greasy! Yuck.
The yellow bits are extremely greasy! Yuck.

The rolags are also difficult to roll as tightly as I’ve been rolling the Oxford Down fleece. I don’t have my spinning wheel or even a hand spindle to hand, so I can’t test them yet. I’ll keep you updated.

* I’m not sure about calling it ‘white’ – I posted this question on Ravelry and am waiting for the answer. Anybody got any ideas?

I was wondering if there is a ‘colour wheel’ of natural wool/fleece colours? I have a Cheviot fleece that is ‘white’ but it actually looks a bit cream, and I have some alpaca that is a bit tan – I don’t know if I call these white or what?!

Any help would be appreciated, thanks!

So, anybody got any ideas?

Today was a relatively doggy-filled day, with a trip to the beach where I met a gorgeous puppy and dog-sitting Jet, the remaining labrador.

Puppy Springer Spaniel. A bad photo, sorry!
Puppy Springer Spaniel. A bad photo, sorry!
Dog watching me with interest. Isn't she a beauty?
Dog watching me with interest. Isn’t she a beauty?

That’s all from me for now. I have a good WIP to show you tomorrow, so watch this space.

Much love,

Corrie xx

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One Response to Sorting through Cheviot Fleece

  1. Victoria says:

    I bought unwashed cheviot at wonderwool this year for £3. I have to agree with each point you made. It is very greasy and smelly. I thought that was normal though since it was my first fleece. I am STILL washing bits and its been weeks since WW. The advice given at the show was to use extra hot water and soap in a tub, so the fleece floats and all the oil separates. Getting it thoroughly desmellified means I’m rinsing 5 times, but it’s pretty nice once done.
    I’ve been lamenting “why can’t they wash the sheep first?”

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