Cottagecore Fleece April Moodboard

April Kit Reveal

Welcome to our new subscription year! For the first installment to our Cottagecore Fleece Subscription we have this luscious longwool fleece. We found this ewe’s fleece at the Michigan Fiber Festival last August and I snatched it up so fast. Coopworth are a cross of Romney and Border Leicester developed in New Zealand in the mid 1900s. The resulting fiber on this breed is soft and lustrous with that amazing “french fry crimp” Romney is so known for. Their wool is great for a range of outerwear projects and home uses, though I would definitely love to see draping yarns from them as well. Hidden Valley Farm and Mill also produces fiber products themselves, so their fleece quality on their flock is really wonderful as they are familiar with what us handspinners are looking for.

Flax, Ingeo Corn Fiber, and Ile de France Cross Fleece

For this blend, we chose a longer stapled fleece from our stash with a bold and similar crimp pattern to the Coopworth. This Ile de France/Dorset/Cheviot cross is a medium wool with Down influence. It has great elasticity as a result and will create a lot of air entrapment in resulting yarn. Since the Coopworth feels more slick and the crimp is less frequent, we sought to balance that out with these qualities. Mohair is not included, but if tossed in with this blend, you would have a really strong sock yarn on your hands!

With Cottagecore meadows and soft greenery in mind, we have a sizable portion of dyed Flax. You should definitely have more of every additive than you need for one batt. Flax is strong, absorbent, has great flexibility, and temperature regulation. I really love using it as an additive for gentle texture and hints of shine in wool blends. There’s a lot of variety and interest that can be given to a yarn just by using fibers that reflect light sources in different manners.

Ingeo Corn Fiber is our other additive for this installment. This is another Viscose type fiber where waste materials from the production of plant goods are essentially liquified, extruded through a series of small holes, and dried or cooled into threads. Most of these viscose fibers are relatively similar and we have a handful of them for this year’s subscription so that you can get an idea of what each feels like. Some, like Rose Fiber, are not necessarily what they sound like they are and can be derived from things like cereal wastes with a small, but just enough to title, amount of what they are named after being included. For instance, Ingeo’s Corn Fiber may not entirely be corn by-product waste, but does have corn in it. This fiber has a UV Resistance, low odor retention, high water resistance, and good flexibility. All good qualities for an outerwear blend. It is entirely biodegradable or compostable and uses less materials to produce than synthetics like polyester. I could not find information on waste from the production process, though they do report that most of water is reused many times in the system or goes through on-site treatment.

Overall, you should end up with a very interesting outwear type yarn from this that should hold up in gloves or hats well, too. Play with it to be whatever makes your heart sing! These subscription boxes are all about experimentation and trying something new. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Mystery Fleece Blender February Moodboard

February Kit Reveal

We’ve reached the end! And it’s a big and colorful end to this last year’s subscription group. Blooming For You brought us beautiful spring flower fields as inspiration and a set of lovely fleeces to work with. Our main base is a pair of East Friesian/Romney/Coopworth cross ewes named Trinity and Nina from Open Book Farms up in Maine. Nina is your pink and purple base and Trinity is the yellow and creamcicle orange. I really like the long staples and medium feel of these ladies. Trinity is definitely a bit softer than Nina, but they represent their East Frisian heritage well as it is their primary makeup. Open Book Farms has been a joy to work with and knows her sheep well. I have the biggest hopes watching this farm learn and grow each year. And she is shearing in the next couple of months! Hint, hint!

The locks we have included in this set come from a Lincoln and Suffolk cross that we picked up at the Michigan Fiber Fest. This fleece ended needing quite the rescue mission! It took first place in its class and I didn’t look as closely as I should have to the inner portions of the bag because the outer fleece was just so beautiful and I could see exactly where the shepherd was going with crossing these two breeds. When we got home, we ended up finding significant damage in the center of the bag from its storage prior to the show which was a huge shame. The shepherd handled the mishap so, so well and it is just something that can happen. A cautionary tale to store fleeces properly and make sure you are looking at every fleece very carefully at purchase.

In the end, I was able to rescue two thirds of the fleece from the situation and I just knew we had good wool sitting in there. Each lock was plucked by hand and strength tested to get the best pieces out of it for our subscription and it was entirely worth the effort. This blend will create a strong and elastic yarn. You’re going to see us explore wool-heavy blends in this year’s Cottagecore Subscription and this one was a step towards that.

Our other inclusions are some bare Soy Silk to add to your “paint box” of silks and some dyed Mohair to really drive towards a strong and soft yarn. There’s loads of color inspiration here and combos to pursue. You can mix and match colors, card the locks in or spin them in, and also play with mixing the ewes’ fleeces or keeping them separate. I ended up choosing to do a set of mini solids from the leftovers to play with. Below, I have hand-fluffed all of the fleeces to prepare it for my carder.

After one pass, these ladies were so smooth! I layered the fleece and Lincoln/Suffolk locks multiple times thinly to increase how blended they would be. Since these are so small, I only utilized half the width of my standard sized carder to ensure a proper packing density of the batts.

For the second pass, I knew I wanted the Mohair and Soy Silk to be very bold to stripe within the final yarn. The purple half of the Mohair was used for the purple and pink batts and the pink for the yellow and orange.

Since these are so small and make such excellent experimenting packs, I chose to work on my consistency in long draw spinning and it made just the fuzziest little yarn babies! I’m really pleased with the results and the yarn feels strong and bouncy just as I’d hoped from such a blend. The singles were spun entirely on the same bobbin and then chain-plied and broken off at each color change.

Thank you again for joining us for this first year of our subscription! I am super excited for all of the plans heading forward in our next year of the service. We have a whole bunch of pretty fleece stockpiled for it already and some wonderful additives for thoughtful blends. We have more slots available for the next year! We hope to see you there.

Mystery Fleece Blender December Moodboard

December Kit Reveal

Whew! December arrived so quickly! We have just one more installment for the year of this subscription and we are getting ready for the 2nd year already with breeds picked out. But this month, we visit the Arctic inspiration with 3 beautiful American Jacob fleeces from Daugherty Ranch Jacobs in Colorado. The shepherd is a wonderful lady on a mission to improve her Jacob flock. We can confirm she has some amazing fleeces to offer as a result! We sent out samples from Janie and Celia, two black and white ewes, and Larry, a lilac and white ram. We have been harboring these guys for nearly a year just for this box! Janie has a lovely handle and a great representation of Jacob. Larry is a little more rustic in nature, but his coloring is so sweet. Celia is a very silky ewe and I can’t wait to see her lambs with Mac next year, who is my favorite ram on the ranch. American Jacob differ from their British counterparts nowadays. When we imported them to the states, they retained their more primitive nature and kept true to the original breed while the British flocks took a hard turn into fleece and meat improvement. The American Jacobs are listed as a heritage breed with the Livestock Conservancy and under a Threatened status so we are very happy to support these flocks. American Jacob produce a bouncy medium wool suitable for a huge range of projects, too!

Janie, Larry, and Celia from top

In addition to this, I’m really excited to be talking about Jacobs because I get to announce I’ve have been invited to be the fleece judge for the Jacob Sheep Breeder’s Association show that will be running in conjunction with the Estes Park Wool Market in Colorado next June. This is a huge step towards future goals to be a fleece judge and I’m so very thrilled at the opportunity. If you’re going to the Wool Market, we hope to see you there!!

To round out our subscription shipment, we brought out some really neat additives. You’ll have Wool Noil dyed a deep charcoal and a silver Flax for some texture. Tussah Silk brings in some beautiful soft and wintery colors to paint with. And for some craziness, we picked up some Mint Fiber for this subscription. It gives an interesting cooling sensation and retained its mint scent. Made from the pulp of Mint plants and extruded into filaments, it is fade, insect, and mildew resistant. It is also meant to be absorbent and antibacterial. I was really surprised by just how soft it is and I hope you have fun with it! Your additives always amount to more than you need for one batt.

We hope you have a wonderful Holiday season filled with woolly goodness! There are several slots available for our next installment in February inspired by floral meadows.