Fleecy Explorations

Pick a fiber and dive deep! Here’s a quick peek at all the projects I’ve been making this year with Border Leicester wool.

Kate Larson Aug 19, 2019 - 3 min read

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“There she goes again with that indigo pot and all our wool!” is a common refrain at morning coffee hour for the retirement set. A group of flock elders make themselves comfortable in Kate’s front yard.

A world of wool is available with the click of a Pay Now button, but it can be a treat to focus on just one for a time. It’s a great spinner’s challenge: how many different types of textiles can you create with just one breed?

In addition to my now annual summer cotton obsession, I’ve been spinning loads of Border Leicester recently. It helps that I have (too) many quite literally in my backyard. I find longwools fascinating; they are easily spun into smooth, firm, lustrous yarns, but can be airy and lightweight with practice.


Fleece type makes a big difference. Here is one of my classic, curly Border Leicester fleeces. This is Agnes's yearling fleece. Compare the lock character to the following image. Photos by Kate Larson


Another Border Leicester yearling fleece. This is a fleece type Kate has been developing in her flock. This wavy lock formation is crimpy and bouncy, which leads to loftier handspun. Can you find the kitty helper pictured?

These wavy, fine fleeces are most often found in my silver genetic lines so far—a happy combination! I recently used a similar fleece from a little girl named Penelope to make my favorite hap yet! It is soft, drapy, fuzzy, and strong.


Evelyn Clark’s article and pattern, Rachel Lace Shawl to Knit, from PieceWork May/June 2014, was a seriously fun knit.

Next, I wanted to deal with a sad little fleece. There are many fleeces that pile up in a shepherd’s stash that are not good enough to sell, but with help, could be something beautiful. I washed this fleece quickly, not worrying about getting it very clean. A little remaining wool grease can make it easier to spin textured yarns with slippery longwools. After spinning, I scoured the fleece, which dropped quite a bit of the remaining vegetable matter. Then it was ready for the indigo pot! I love using these yarns as weft for creating plain-weave cloth.


A coarser lamb fleece from a dirty little sheep. Names are omitted to protect the innocent.

And then I was off on an embroidery tangent, which is best done with the classic curly Leicester fleece, but that’s a story for another day. Stay tuned! The lambs are growing more wool with every passing moment.