Portland seat pad

Many of you will remember the Portland fleece that I was lucky enough to be given in the Autumn. In a fit of, let’s play with raw fleece, I decided to make a seat pad.

When I say raw, I really do mean it. Not washed, all the dirt and other organic matter still in it. I began by chucking  laying out Portland to my selected size allowing 30% extra for shrinkage. In the centre was four layers of a commercially prepared Cheviot top and then a final layer of carefully (believe that you’ll believe anything!) placed Portland fleece.

There’s a substantial amount of lanolin on the raw Portland fleece which I knew would throw the soapy water off. So, going straight to the offensive I  trebled my usual amount of soap. I much prefer to put soap in the water as it gets the wool wet quickly and I knew the Cheviot sandwich filling would take and hold this very soapy water well. However, I knew that wouldn’t  be enough so added more soap directly onto the fleece by rubbing it with an olive oil soap bar.

I left the edges a little drier so that I wouldn’t have too much water cascading to the floor. the plan worked, I didn’t spill a drop of the dirty water on the floor and it meant that the edges didn’t felt in so well and have given me a lovely contrast in texture. The seat pad is very warm to sit on but I think I may try it ten layers next time or indeed make a true cushion which I stuff with washed fleece. Surely that will help with stash busting efforts?

If you received some of the Portland fleece from me I’d be very interested to know what you’ve done with it and did it work? I would dearly like to let the breeder have some feedback.

Free fleece

A very nice breeder called Tim has gifted me fleece from his rare breed Portland sheep. Tim keeps the sheep to cross graze with his horses but knows little about what this wool would be useful for. Rather than waste the fleece it’s been passed to me to try and find homes for it and to feed back to Tim what we think of it for spinning and felt making.

There are 12 black sacks of fleece available on a first come first served basis. So stake your claim now. Here’s a little more information.

Lots of lanolin. A little more straw in with some of it then we’d like but it’s been near the stables and some hay was dropped on it. Otherwise not too bad in the main.

I pulled some fibres out from various sections and the staple length is 3″.

It had 2 washes and 2 rinses, a quick spin in the machine and out to dry. It’s cleaned up quite well and was easy to card on hand carders.

I needed to add a little more soap for felting and it’s not a bad felter but it won’t be a favourite with me because it’s still a little stretchy and to felt it any further I would lose all detail. I do like solid well felted wool so this isn’t the one for me but would be suitable for softer projects like pictures. I have no idea how well it would spin but for the staple length, it’s quite a soft wool.

If you’d like to take a bag of unwashed raw fleece just drop me an email or give me a call. All I ask in return is that you tell me what you do with the fleece and how well or otherwise, it suited your purpose. I’d like to pass this on to Tim so he has more of an idea if it has a commercial value. If it turns out that it’s great for spinning or felting and you’d like more next year I’d be happy to put you in touch with the breeder.