It was a woolly, mammoth project
Monday June 14th 2010, 8:23 pm
Filed under: Spinning

I once bought a Rambouillet fleece from a woman in New Mexico who was trying to refine the breed to create the finest fleeces, better than the merino it was derived from. She had each one micron-count lab-tested and then she priced according to those results.

I decided if I were going to spring for one, I was going to get the best I could.

This is before I had a drum carder. I quickly realized my hand cards and my wrists and that wool were not a good match and sent it off to a mill to be commercially washed and machine-carded into roving for the fast-food version of handspinning: just sit at my wheel and go.

I even got sent a picture of the sheep! With its poetic name, Number 1243 or some such.

The mill said it did fine fleeces like merino. What it didn’t tell me when I made inquiries is that they hadn’t quite yet bought fur carders, which is what most superfine wools require. (They did a year later.)

They botched it. My beautiful, first-class fleece came back full of neps, the little rolled-up pills that are the nemesis of good sweaters everywhere–before the wool had even been made into yarn yet. Picking them out was a task that would never have ended.

I actually made a pair of soft slipper socks out of them, even so.  I started a second and much larger project, but the could-have-beens and the visual interruptions of those pills got to me and I eventually abandoned it. From there, it sat for awhile till I donated most of the roving to the Boy Scout troop for stuffing in their shoes for comfortable feet on long hikes.

So yes, it’s true: loose neps sink WIPs.

8 Comments so far
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A sad story with a howler of a moral!

Comment by LynnM 06.14.10 @ 11:49 pm

Stop it Alison, just STOP IT. You’re momma raised you better.


Comment by afton 06.15.10 @ 5:10 am

How can you do that to us at the very start of the day?! I think I need a second cup of coffee…

Comment by twinsetellen 06.15.10 @ 5:20 am


Comment by Sherry in Idaho 06.15.10 @ 6:56 am

Oh, Surely you can do better than that!

Comment by Sherry in Idaho 06.15.10 @ 6:57 am

Pout. You’re scaring me, Alison. That blue batt I’m spinning has lots of lumps and bumps, and for a BIG change, I’m spinning around them and not flicking them off. Will my yarn be strong enough to be a shawl? Should I navajo ply for the extra strength?

Comment by Channon 06.15.10 @ 7:04 am


but I love it — it’s what I come back for every single day — my daily smile from Alison’s whacky word play — oh, and the peregrin updates, and the knitting, and — oh well, just everything

Comment by Bev 06.15.10 @ 7:15 am

What could I possibly say that your other commenters haven’t already said? Especially since I have no idea what you’re talking about! What on earth am I doing in the midst of a knitters blog?

Fun – and I suppose you deserve this one:

Did you hear about the marine biologist who developed a race of genetically engineered dolphins that could live forever if they were fed a steady diet of seagulls? One day, his supply of the birds ran out so he had to go out and trap some more. On the way back, he spied two lions asleep on the road. Afraid to wake them, he gingerly stepped over them. Immediately, he was arrested and charged with–
transporting gulls across sedate lions for immortal porpoises.

Comment by Don Meyer 06.15.10 @ 9:05 am

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