Thursday November 08th 2007, 2:39 pm
Filed under: Knit

When life gives you neps, make slippers.

Rambouillet fleece combed into rovingI once bought a Rambouillet fleece from a New Mexican rancher who bred her animals for the fineness of their fleeces, trying to create the softest of the softest; she sold them by micron count. Oooh. Nice.

But I made the mistake of shipping it off to a mill that did not, at the time, have the equipment to deal with so fine a fiber, which I did not know, and they cleaned it and combed it into roving that was full of neps. My fleece! Working at my wheel with it was like spinning rubber bands with chicken pox. It wanted to sproing back into its pre-stretched state, with those little nubbly bits peppered here and there.

My daughter had a high school biology teacher at the time who so inspired her that she wanted to go into the field, and is now working on a microbiology PhD herself. At the end of that school year, I took that fleece, spun a bit of it up the best I could, gave up hope of knitting socks out of it (see, I did knit socks, once upon a time) and instead gave in to the thickness it wanted to be spun up at and knitted that teacher a pair of cozy slippers.

I told her, as she opened the package, that I wanted to thank her for inspiring my daughter to want to walk in her shoes.

Sockweight or not, you certainly couldn’t ask for anything softer, and I wanted them to be handspun: biologists live with a love of the workings of the life of this planet, and I wanted something as close as possible to the animal that got the haircut. I actually had a picture of that individual sheep, too, courtesy of the rancher, with the lovingly poetic name of #1235, or some such number. (Ah, well.)

The teacher was thrilled, which thrilled me. I did not know that day that she was going back to Stanford after that school year at the high school ended, so I’m glad I didn’t put it off till my next kid got to that grade level.

Meantime, someone on the Knitlist casually mentioned awhile back that wool roving is great for stuffing around your feet inside your shoes when you’re doing long hikes; it keeps blisters from forming. Hey! The local Boy Scouts were about to do their annual 50-mile hike! So some of the fleece went to that good cause.

Still. That sheep produced a fair-size ball of wool. I have this really soft, really long white rubber band, and occasionally it asks me what I’m going to do with it. For now, I’m ignoring it–again–and going back to that red shawl.

4 Comments so far
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I’m sure you’ll make good use of all of it eventually.

Comment by Amanda 11.08.07 @ 5:04 pm

I just found some roving I bought many moons ago, when I was learning to drop spin. Maybe it was a hint. I loved spinning, but I haven’t done it for ages. Someone told me about an electric spinning wheel I can use from my recliner. Any one familiar with this kind of thing? (Sitting up for too long is a bad thing for me) I could alway just drop spin or find a left-foot spinning wheel for 10-15 minutes at a time,

Comment by Diana Troldahl 11.08.07 @ 5:24 pm

Thrummed mittens! For everyone you know…..

Comment by Carol 11.08.07 @ 7:33 pm

You could dye it, make something and then felt it. Just a suggestion. Or you could spin it up to make toys. Toys are most often made in 8ply which I think is sport weight. A few suggestions.

Comment by Vicki 11.08.07 @ 8:55 pm

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