CT Sheep and Wool Festival is an annual event where fiber enthusiasts from throughout our state and the surrounding area come together to sell their products, spin, knit, crochet and do whatever fibery things they love to do. Some vendors even bring animals. There were alpacas, llamas, angora rabbits, and of course, sheep.
I got to watch a sheep shearing (the first I've seen in person), and I must say, I was a bit startled by the process. First of all, it was amazing that the young woman doing the shearing could get a 250 lb sheep on the ground and then sitting up right on it's bottom so she could shear it. There was definitely something mesmerizing about watching the fiber come away from the animal, but I was a bit surprised at how nicked and cut the sheep were afterward. They were shorn almost to the skin, and many had cuts and razor burn afterward. Thank goodness alpaca shearers are much more careful and leave a bit of fiber (I think about 1/4 - 1/2 inch). Alpacas also get tied down during shearing, but these sheep were not tied. They were sat down, and moved this way and that. Some tried to struggle a bit, but gave up. I felt a bit bad for the sheep, but I did take advantage of the shearing by purchasing 2.5 lbs of raw Romney fiber. I have processed raw alpaca, but not sheep fiber, so I decided I would give it a shot.
I also got to watch the sheep dog trials. I thought it was amazing. The dogs were so intent on their jobs. I'm a firm believer that all dogs need a job, and need to have their energy drained in a positive way, so watching herding dogs being used for what they are bred for was even more awesome for me.
Meanwhile...back at the apartment....
Remember this alpaca? I received her fiber from my mentor farm.
I dyed it and carded the dyed fiber into rolags. Half of that fiber has now become the 250 yards of 2-ply yarn shown below. The other half is in the process of being carded. I dyed it red, orange and yellow, and I'm blending with the hand carders like I did for the yarn below. I'm going to spin this new color blend as worsted weight singles. I dyed all of the fiber using regular food coloring found in the grocery store. I had to blend red and blue to get the purple, but the blue and green are not blended.
Oh, remember when I was wondering about why wool carders aren't the best to use on alpaca fiber? Well, I learned the hard way that cotton carders are the best bet. I found that the alpaca fiber carded on wool carders was breaky and knotted, while the fiber I carded on the proper hand cards (the fiber pictured above) was lovely to spin with. I tried the wool cards on some chocolate brown cria fiber (pictured in a previous post). It still spun up nicely, and is now becoming a lace tam. Moral of the story: Do your research. I got my own set of Strauch cotton hand carders at the festival today. Coincidentally, they are exactly the same as the set lent to me by my mentor farm.
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