I had a great time yesterday at the OGWSD Fleece to Blanket day in Bledlow. The day took place at Gina's beautiful farm and we were spinning the fleece of her male sheep, Bo, a Blue Faced Leicester cross. Since Bo died at Christmas when only 20 months old we would be giving the finished blanket (or at least the knitted squares) to Gina to keep as a memento of him.
First of all Carole showed us how to grade a fleece and showed us where the coarsest and softest fibre was to be found.
After skirting the fleece she told us how we could feel the difference between the sides (quite coarse), the back (much softer), and the neck fleece (very soft). She also told us to watch out for kemp which the OED defines as "A coarse or stout hair..occurring among wool" and which is the thick, plasticky feeling, white or black hair that you sometimes find in fleece. A fleece with a lot of kemp is to be avoided.
Once Carole had explained what was what we all grabbed a handful and started spinning.
Most of the group were sat under the big gazebo but there also was a group of four spinners (not pictured) a little way away under a tree leading to lots of jokes about break away groups and the main peloton. If it was a race then Megan was the winner as she completed the first knitted square with Kate second and myself third (yay).
Whilst knitting my square I wandered over to see the sheep. They were very friendly and inquisitive. They started off over there.
And gradually ended up here.
By the end of the day we didn't quite have a blanket but we did have a decent collection of 6" squares (I'm afraid that Gina is going to have to sew up her own blanket).
My log cabin square is centre right. I really enjoyed spinning in the grease and it was quite a challenge to spin the uncarded fibre. I ended up with a somewhat lumpier but still knittable yarn than I usually go for. Knitting in the grease, however, is something that I can't really recommend. It's just so sticky. For that reason I've cheated a bit and washed my final skein of yarn which I hope to knit up quickly and pop in the post to Gina. I'll post a picture once it's dried so you can see the amazing difference in colour and feel.