The Sheep and Wool Festival was fun. The weather was cold and rainy, and after about three hours I'd had enough, but it was very sheep-y and wool-y. There were Ravelry people everywhere! They all looked young and chic, and I knew they were Ravelry people because they all had pins saying so, with their screen names. So many cool sweaters, and scarves, and hats and gloves - all knit of course.
Here's a picture of one team in the sheep to shawl competition. Most teams had 4 spinners, a plyer and a weaver. I didn't stay and watch the whole thing, even though it was riveting (!), but I think only 2 or 3 of the teams got a shawl that was long enough before the time expired. Pretty neat.
Here's my haul from the event. A 5-1/2 lb Romney fleece for $8/lb and a 6 lb Romney fleece for $6/lb plus two 1/2 pound Merino rovings for $17 each. When I first started spinning 6 months ago, I was all excited about turning raw fleece into yarn, and surprised when one of my old high school friends said she starts from roving, not raw fleece. I'm beginning to think that's smarter than what I'm doing. Let's take a moment to do the math.
There's this thing called yield, when applied to fleece means that after I wash it and card it, I'll probably get 3 usable pounds from this 5 pound fleece (removing dirt, vegetable matter and lanolin). I haven't actually finished carding an entire fleece yet because it's a LOT of wool. But when I spun my first 8 ounces for my sister I got 300+ yards from 1/2 pound. Applying the same rate, this 3 pounds would be 1800 yards of yarn. Now, I'm not a knitter, but I think 1800 yards is maybe ~ 3 sweaters worth (?) Knitters, please correct me here!
How much work is this? Washing a dirty fleece takes me all afternoon. I'm doing other things of course, but it's alot of the wool sitting in hot water in lingerie bags - 1 wash and 3 or so rinses at an hour or so each time. Then it takes days to dry in the summer. In winter, over a week. Then, let's say it takes 20 hours to card it all - just a guess, and 6 hours to spin it - also a guess. Total is maybe 27 hours of work for 3 pounds of yarn. (I'll revise these guesses as I work through these fleeces I've got here.) Looking at it another way, it's at least 4.5 hours of work for the same 8 ounces I spent $17 for. There's always the priceless value of the zen experience of carding - uh huh. [Can't you just tell I'm an Industrial Engineer? I do calculations like this for kicks!]