Saturday, July 4, 2009

Insane Amounts of Fleece and Other Finds

As part of an estate sale, a guy had about 40 fleeces he's been selling. His late mother has sheep, and was very much into the fiber arts. He's been selling various fiber-related equipment as well. He sold a loom, still had another, and as of the day I was GOING to go he had an antique spinning wheel which he sold that night, so by the next day when I went, that was gone along with a 2nd pair of hand carders, which I'm sorry about. I'm probably best off that he didn't still have the antique wheel. If it had appealed to me on looks alone, I'd have bought it.

I was interested in the fleeces because the per-pound price was really good and my understanding was that his mom's fleeces were really well-regarded by people in her spinning guild. They are Romney, Border Leicester and Cotswold. Unfortunately I don't know much about any of those, but have done some research and decided to pass on the Cotswold, but was split on which to buy of the Romney and BL.

I ended up buying one of each, a 7.3-lb. BL ewe fleece and an 8.5-lb. Romney ewe. All the 2008 fleeces sold out quickly because of ridiculously low price, and these were shorn about a month ago, so are fresh, fresh, fresh! My only experience with raw fleece was the New Zealand (post below) which I knew was at least a year old, maybe more. Man, you stick your hand into one of these fleeces and it comes out glistening! Fresh, pure lanolin.

The Romney Ewe


The Border Leicester Ewe


I also bought some misc. things he still had. A set of Clemes & Clemes hand carders which Jenny really wanted ($40) and while looking at those, noticed an Ashford flicker brush ($5) that she hadn't mentioned wanting, but figured she'd want also. Great deals, but man, were they ever gunky! Little balls of neps but looked totally fixable. I went at them with this weird little tool I'd bought sometime back. (Picture a fan-style leaf rake, except this is tiny and the fan tines are very fine metal.) Voila! I spent a good 45 minutes and enjoyed doing it. Every last spec is gone, and Damn Sam, both the hand carders and the flicker brush are in amazingly perfect condition. Not a tooth missing or bent. So great deals.

I DO wish I'd taken a picture before I cleaned these, but here they are. Mecca!!

The flicker brush.

ALMOST last (but not least!) there was this HUGE basket. His mom had LOTS of baskets! Some a little unusual, many not. But this one just caught my eye, bigtime. Dusty, dirty, cobwebs even. Loom parts were in it along with other miscellany and it looked very interesting, but its impact just didn't hit me until I got it home and cleaned it up. It did have a tag on it. Mom had a tendency to leave tags on things. This tag looked very, very old. A little generic paper tag like what people would use in a marketplace on the off streets of St. John. Scrawled on it was "hand woven in Africa." And on the other side, a price that nowhere in my memory could it have possibly sold for in the U.S... $29. Well, maybe in the 40s when physicians' expensive houses sold for $40K (which were always called "homes" when other houses were called "houses"). If she traveled at all, I suspect she brought it home from somewhere where street vendors lurked. She was 76 when she died.

I don't know what the two loops are at the top on either side of the leather wrapping on the handle, maybe just decorative or an artistic finish of ends, but the basket actually looks like it was built for actual carrying things, albeit beautifully made. Not just for tabletop decorating. One only wraps a handle in leather on a working basket, I'd think. Nor would you typically use leather wraps around where the handle joins with the basket body. And it was also a leather type I've never seen before. It has a totally unusual feel and look. The basket flops to 20" long, 12" wide when on a surface. More circular when being carried.

I wish I knew when and where she bought it, just to know the story behind that. Let's just say her basket found a home where it'll be loved. And it will live on the cedar chest and hold WIPs.


I also bought two hand spindles, kind of "just because." Price was right. He said someone told him the first one is a Navajo spindle. I thought you twirled those in a bowl or something. Well, it looks like the bottom tip has been twirled. There's a teensy but very, very strong hook on the top which I think wouldn't be there on a Navajo spindle, but may have been added because I'm thinking one could twirl it on its top too. I can't find a youtube video on Navajo spindles. Otherwise it just looks like one humungous drop spindle. It's 16 inches long! Center-weighted, there's no carve-out on the underside of the whorl. And it weighs 3.4 oz. This could make a great plying spindle for a LOT of yarn if wrapped football style.

The other, I know is a Turkish spindle but this one has two separate pieces going in each direction, which must have a purpose. No clue what though. The only other Turkish spindle I've seen only had one in each direction, curved downward. (Since writing this post, I found a youtube video that has what looks like the exact same spindle! Same big size, same shaped head, same flat cross bars. But hers only had one crossbar in each direction, so the two remains a mystery.

So that was my estate sale day. I started scouring the rest of the New Zealand (a measley little 4-1/4 pounds by comparison to these two fleeces) and could see right away I'm gonna be scouring fleeces for a LONG time. The New Zealand is my prize though. Luvit, luvit, LUVIT!!


Liz said...

Very nice! Do you have a sweater dryer? You can find them pretty cheap at Target or Walmart. I use mine to dry fiber. I also use cheap tulle fabric and make a kind of hammock with it outside. I attach it to my outdoor clothes dryer with clothespins but you could probably tie it between two trees or something like that. Very convenient for drying fiber.

If your washing machine doesn't shoot out cold rinse water during the spin cycle, you can wash your fleece in the washer. Fill up with water (I usually use the small load amt of water) and put in your net bags to soak. If your water isn't hot enough, you can boil water on the stove and add that. Repeat a couple of times without soap for rinse and then spin. The fiber will be dry faster once it spins in the washer.

Have fun!!

Carol said...

Oh, I had a big laundry bag of fleece in the washer too! Love your idea about the hammock, except I have resident squirrels and chipmunks who I don't trust one bit. I've been doing one wash, one rinse but think I maybe should be doing more rinses. It's just so time consuming to keep heating that much water! Good point though, I'll check on that more.

Yup, I'm using spin cycle. Huge convenience, that! Today, at least, I did park it all in 2 pots of 125-deg. hot tap water while waiting for the stovetop canners to heat up. Now that I'm thinking about it, I could have improved on that. I think I need to think this out better. Glad for the reminder. ;-)

RaCie Baby said...

Just looking at the turkish spindles I'm thinking it could be a similar arrangement to the Majacraft set. It comes with 3 different weights of arms so you can choose how heavy you want your spindle to be. I'd say she's stored the 2 different weights on there so they don't get lost.