I have a long queue of fleeces. In the storage of my sofa bed I have at the moment 12 fleeces that are washed and picked but not spun. These are my ladies in waiting.
When I buy a new fleece I try to keep a strict order – first in first out. It’s not always that easy, a new fleece is so exciting and shiny and much more tempting to dig my hands into than the older ones. But I have had fleeces that were too old go brittle, so I try my best to work my ladies in waiting in strict order.
The fleeces in the featured image above are not part of my stash.
Out of the twelve fleeces in the sofa bed nine were shorn in the autumn of 2021. This means that nine fleeces are older than one year. I try to keep my queue no longer than one year, and obviously I have failed at keeping this goal. Having that many fleeces in my queue and knowing that the quality will deteriorate does put pressure on me.
The ladies in waiting
So, here are my ladies in waiting, all washed (with water only), picked and stored in paper bags in my sofa bed:
- On the spinning wheel I have Nypon (Rose hip), the last of a silver medal winning finull fleece from the Swedish fleece championships of 2020. This is my oldest fleece, but still in excellent condition.
- Elsa is a Gestrike fleece shorn in the autumn of 2021. I have sorted the fleece according to staple type and spun all of one category into a hat and a pair of mittens. The rest of the categories are neatly stored in individual bags.
- My sweet gute fleece that I am planning to tease together with recycled sari silk is also from the autumn of 2021, but the lanolin feels a bit sticky. This will be the next fleece I spin.
- Four Åland fleeces from 2021, long, fine, silky and delicious.
- Three medalists from the 2021 fleece championships – Fjällnäs, Helsinge and Dalapäls wool.
- Tabacktorp, Dalapäls and Icelandic fleeces shorn in the autumn of 2022. My most freshly shorn and therefore most attractive fleeces. I’m spinning the dalapäls fleece at the moment (see below). I have separated the Icelandic fleece into undercoat and outercoat.
- Plus quite a lot of 80+ year old Austrian flax that I’m not that worried about.
Lately I have been spinning my newest fleece, a shiny dalapäls fleece with long, silky locks, shorn in October 2022. The fleece ruthlessly cut in line since I needed more yarn for a pair of two-end knitted sleeves that had run out of yarn. Spinning this wool this fresh is a dream – the staples are open and airy. The fibers lightly and smoothly join into the twist like a breath of fresh air and a dance. An older fleece on the other hand can be tougher to spin, as if the lanolin has gotten tired and cranky, fighting me as I try to get my head around it. An older fleece can also have become compacted and slightly felted after having been compressed in the sofa bed, even if I have picked it before storing.
Putting my foot down
As I was spinning my merengue white and fresh dalapäls fleece I realized that I need to make some changes in my fleece purchasing pattern. I don’t have to buy every unusual, unique, special or otherwise interesting fleece I see. Wool grows back again. There will be other chances. And I have enough of a network of sheep owners to get a high quality fleece when I need it, not only when I see one that looks interesting.
This new and fresh thought got my shoulders to sink in relief. Spinning is such a joy to me and should never, ever be involved with pressure of any kind. It is and should always be a sanctuary, a place for creativity and making.
A new plan
I decided that I want to shorten my fleece queue to a level where it doesn’t stress me. I have so many other projects and baby ideas I want to work on– mending, upcycling, designing, destashing, course creating, webinar planning, writing etc. And of course spinning the twelve ladies in waiting, beginning with the oldest and/or most urgent fleece. I will in no way, shape of form be without craft.
So, my plan for 2023 is to not buy fleece, at least not before I have spun the 2021 fleeces. This is not a resolution, not a promise. A plan and a wish, a year of cleaning up and organizing in my idea cabinet.
I will still spin, knit, weave and write. I will just create from what I already have. Perhaps that will give me the opportunity to expand my creative horizons. One plan is to frog old garments (handspun and commercial) that I don’t use anymore to knit new and shiny things from.
How do you deal with a large fiber stash?
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- Read the new book Knit (spin) Sweden! by Sara Wolf. I am a co-author and write in the fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.fleece section about how I spin yarn from Swedish sheep breeds.
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