My Friend Cambridge

Cambridge (SHF1305) was born at Shepherd’s Hey Farm on January 27, 2013 (photo by Lee Langstaff).

314422_168064710014149_1251301220_nI met her not long after this. In fact, I met her as she prepped to go to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in May 2013 as a lamb.

Isn’t she cute in her pretty flower show coat??? (The sheep wear the coat to keep the fleece clean and to keep the sun from bleaching the fleece.)

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I know what you are thinking….”OMG she’s done it. She’s bought a sheep to keep in her NYC apartment.”

Don’t worry, Cambridge still lives at Shepherd’s Hey Farm with her brethren of beautiful natural colored long wool sheep. She was bred for her fleece, though. So no…. while I did not bring home sheep for Finn and Lucy I was lusting after her fleece! Anyone who knows me can probably guess why I fell in love with Cambridge and wanted the fleece this little girl was going to produce, right? Not only was she darling, she was every single shade of grey known under the sun.

I begged to please let me be the one to process and make something out of Cambridge’s fleece. Sure, I had just begun spinning, but I thought that I could improve enough by the time she was to be sheared to do her fleece proud.

And on November 22, Emily The Shearer came to The Farm, and sheared 21 sheep. And Cambridge was one of them.

Cambridge did a very good job growing her fleece. It was thick and luxurious. She looked like she was very dark on the outside. But as Emily worked (and she was FAST)….all the grey in all the different glorious shades emerged.

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Say it with me. “Ooooooooooooooo”.

Cambridge is 42% Romney, 19% Border Leicester, 16% Corriedale, 12% Lincoln, 7% Romeldale, 2% Rambouillet and 2% Wensleydale. I’ve actually linked to the fleece characteristics for all these breeds for you so if you are really curious, you can go look. The conclusion you will draw, I think, is that her fleece is probably “not soft” (think cashmere). It is true that as yarn, Cambridge’s fleece will likely not be next to the skin soft. That is not what she has been bred for.

What she has been bred for is this:

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Long locks, bouncy, silky, even crimp (see the light grey locks in the foreground on this picture), oh and the COLOR. It is absolutely gorgeous. And the fleece felt good to the touch, what spinners may call “a great hand”…it’s not “soft” the way most people would think, but it feels good to the touch.

I was THRILLED. And since a picture is worth a thousand words….

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After shearing, Cambridge was given worming medication, put back into a coat (a size smaller because….well, look, she was all fleece!!) and given lots of good food so she can keep warm…and grow some fleece for me next year!

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Now the question was….what to do with this gorgeous bundle? Her fleece weighed nearly 8 pounds before skirting. I pulled out 10.75 ounces (this is not a magic number, I just pulled out what I wanted and then weighed what I pulled out) and got help processing her fleece.

Small amounts of fleece are hand washed carefully…

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Dried….

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and as she is a long wool, we decided to hand comb locks and put it through a diz to create a “top”.

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I decided to keep the colors as separate as I could because her very light grey was incredible and the depth on the charcoal was insane. Think I like her fleece?

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Don’t you? Hand combing produces these coiled fluffs of the fleece with all the fibers aligned. This is going to be a breeze to spin. In fact….here she is on my bobbin! This is the light colored bit….it is literally silver!

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11 comments
  1. Lee said:

    Kei – this is WONDERFUL! There is no greater pleasure for a fleece producer than to see not just what you’ve done with the fleece, but the appreciation and pleasure your write-up reflects. It is SO gratifying and confirming to see this fleece In your incredibly capable and appreciative hands! How gratifying to know that all the work, worry, and planning that went into producing the qualities in that fleece will shine (literally) every step of the way! I couldn’t be happier that you and Cambridge found each other! YAY and bravo! And thanks from Shepherd’s Hey Farm and the whole flock!

  2. Melissa said:

    Beautiful!!! I loved reading all of this and hope you keep posting about Cambridge and her fleece and what you do with it. That silver yard is gorgeous!!!

  3. Thanks, Melissa. I re-wrote this post a few times because I didn’t want to get too detailed but didn’t want to leave out the important details (you know, like the FLEECE). I’m too excited about this fleece not to go on and on about it, so my plan is to hopefully show fleece to garment!

  4. Nancy said:

    My hat’s off to you. I wanted to spin, but I’m enough of a yarn addict that I didn’t want to add fleeces to the HUGE stash.
    I can’t wait to see what you’re going to knit this lovely yarn up into.

    • Nancy — have you ever gone to look at my yarn stash in Ravelry?? (Actually it’s a very carefully culled collection!) I do have to say that stash in fiber form takes up way too much room. And the weird thing is when you finish working with it — you’re creating more (yarn) stash!! It’s really very fun though — you should give it a…spin!!!!

  5. Judi Shea-Vaillancourt said:

    Kei that fleece looked sooo gorgeous
    I am envious of all that fiber
    You did a great job cleaning and getting it ready to spin
    and it shows in yourspinning
    what do you plan to knit with this?
    Judi

    • Judi —
      Right now I’m spinning the light silver stuff into a lace weight. I’ve not washed the whole fleece yet so I have maybe 3 oz of this stuff. I will post progress…

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