Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Great Expectations, unfulfilled..............

Imagine a chocolate coated Bond - no not the Martini drinking spy, but a sheep, whose fleece is chocolate in colour and has worn a coat to keep the fleece clean and free from debris.................

Bond is an Australian sheep created when Thomas Bond mated a Saxon-Peppin Merino ewes to stud Lincoln rams to improve the wool. I don't need to go into the background you can 'Google' Bond sheep and get all the same information as me!  Anyway we don't have Bond here in the UK, so of course it became a must have fleece!  I wanted to find out what all the hype was about, especially as I had never spun from a coated fleece, so last year I ordered a kilo of fawn Bond as part of a group purchase organised through the UK Fleece group on Ravelry.

It has been a long wait and along the way the SpinDyeWeavers had the opportunity to purchase a chocolate fleece.  Then it failed to arrive in the UK, then it was in Amsterdam and finally after 4 months at sea the fleeces arrived - I arranged to collect at Fibre East along with my Fawn - excitement was growing.

Last Saturday was the day - we spread out the fleece, its a phone photo so not the best, but take my word it was a big fleece 3.4kg and not cheap................

It was divided up between the six of us and it did involve a lot of crawling around and I believe that some derrieres were a trifle stiff on Sunday! 

In total fairness we all got two bags, the not so good stuff and the better - well Sunday I sat down to sort though my share and I really thought that there had been a mix up and I had got two bags of the 'not so good', but not the case - so all my great expectations were dashed....

I did expect some felting from the coat, but quite a lot is very felted, bent right over and bleached - which according to Judith McKenzie this could be because the coats weren’t change soon enough.

A goodly part of the fleece looked like this and when you pull a lock this what you get

You can see how dry and brittle the tips are and when you flick them they just break off! Remember this is from the better bag!

There are some locks which do live up to expectations, but not a lot (and these were on the top of the bag!!!)  However, in these locks  there is a lighter part running through the fleece! This lighter bit breaks as you pull the locks and would indicate that the sheep was stressed at this point (again as per Judith McK).

The shorter hairy fleece is quite coarse and not what I expected from a 25 micron fleece. There are a lot of second cuts, some VM and fleece encrusted with poo!

When in comes to preparing the fleece the felted ends make pulling the locks very hard which means there is a lot more waste than I normally get with a fleece - all this and more!

These are the two sample skeins that I have spun - the top is from the shorter locks and is quite coarse, the other from the longer ones, softer but there isn't much of this.............

At the moment I don't know whether I shall even bother with the 'not so good' fleece, if the better was so disappointing I am sure that the other lot will be even worse!

I have come to the conclusion that we are completely spoilt with Yvonne Hoskins's beautiful fleeces - yes they aren't coated so there is a bit of debris, but she skirts her fleeces so well that there is no poo and the quality is second to none!

At Fibre East I talked to Michael Churchmouse and he told me I would be disappointed with the Bond and he was so right - from now on I will stick to good ol' British fleece

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