You’ll never forget your first…

Last weekend we packed the fam’ into the car and drove to the Common Ground Fair. It’s an “old country fair” type event put on by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, and it’s so much fun. Animals, demonstrations of all things related to farming and simpler living, and vendors of wonderful things made in Maine.

For the Squirrel Girls, the animals are the reason for the fair (followed closely by the maple candy!)

We saw oxen, big…

… and small,
draft horses (who were tired of the crowds,)
and sheep (among many other things!)

For me, the spinners and the wool vendors are the main attration. I didn’t have a lot to spend this year, but I did pick up four ounces of some wonderfully soft roving, a blend of Icelandic wool and angora, from Fresli Farm (Limerick, Maine.)

The fiber is so downy soft, I know it will spin up beautifully. Elaine, the owner, was kind enough to give me some tips on spinning it too.

My only other purchase:

my very first whole fleece!

I wandered through the fleece tent last year and was too bewildered to choose. This year, though, I was a bit more prepared and also had the help of a certain Farm Witch in understanding exactly what I was looking at.

(As a quick aside, this is the second year I’ve met up with the wonderful Josette, and her family, at the CGF, and the second year in a row I neglected to snap a photo for evidence! Nevertheless, it was absolutely wonderful to see her and hang for a little while… Thank you, J! Mwahh!)

Anyway, I chose a fleece from the “Medium, Colored” table, meaning it’s not too soft, not too coarse, just right… A small (4 pounds, unwashed) midnight-colored Romney/Corriedale cross from Swiftwater Farms; the tag inside the bag says the ewe’s name is “Apple.”

I was smitten, and got right to work. I washed the wool the next day, and laid it out in the sun to dry. We had a few summer-like days last week, and I spend a couple afternoons outdoors with a big basket of wool and my Dutch combs.

The work goes fast; the wool is soft and most of the fleece was still in “locks” after washing. Before I knew it I had this:

9.6 oz of beautiful combed wool. Oh heaven.

I’m planning to comb at least a pound, and spin it up for my most special sweater ever. The rest of it will be carded (with hand-cards) and spun woolen-style for mittens, hats, and whatever else I can make from it.

There’s something so magical about this process – seeing the wool turn from greasy, wonderfully sheepy-smelling clumps of wool to luxurious lengths of soft, chocolate roving…


11 thoughts on “You’ll never forget your first…

  1. OK, I enlarged your last picture of the combed fleece–does it have light blue fibers in it too? It looks so soft! and I can’t wait to see what you choose to knit it into for yourself…..

  2. I feel sort of sinister – having witnessed the ending of your raw fleece virginity and all. Oh, I’m so glad you bought apple’s fleece. I was gonna go back and do it if you didn’t. I’m jealous of your combs!

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