MDSW did something to me. Or maybe it was spending all that time with fleece-crazed Barbara Clorite-Ventura. I've barely processed any of the Cormo fleece (or should I call it The Cormo fleece); I've combed (much) less than a pound of the Corriedale fleece (and how soothing it is); and here I am, working on a third fleece. (We won't mention the alpaca and llama fleece that shipped with my wheel; nor the sample of Freesian Erin kindly sent before I got bit by the fleece bug; and not a word about the pound and a bit of Navajo Churro Scout sent along!)

What can I say, my fleece muse is unpredictable. And powerful.

I "won" the CVM fleece (California Variegated Mutant - what a name, eh? Should be on X-Files.) on eBay.

Now, I don't generally recommend buying fleeces sight unseen. It's hard enough (for a newb like me) to pick out a fleece in person. But over the 'net, that much harder. You can't inspect the locks, you can't test for breaks or see if there's a lot of vegetable matter, check for second cuts, etc. It can be a crapshoot.

But, as I said, my fleece muse is unpredictable. And powerful.

There were two deciding factors. Well, three:

  1. I've heard a lot of good things about CVM and have been wanting to try some out.
  2. The seller had another auction for a fleece that won grand chamption at their county fair. I know, I know, I don't even know what that means. It sounded good. But I did read through their eBay feedback and it was good.
  3. Well, crap, I forget what 3 was. But, the fleece was described as next to the skin soft with a super fine crimp. The sheep was covered and the fleece was well skirted. (In English: the sheep wore a coat to keep hay and burrs off it's wool; after it was shorn, the icky and subpar bits were thrown out.) Sounded good.*

I paid more than I planned. Naturally (evil eBay). And this arrived from Sheepy Thyme Farm:

Thank you Mr. Postman!
thank you Mr. Postman!

Bonnie even included some angora because of a small billing confusion. She was super nice and the fleece arrived very quickly!

Here's a sample lock:

sample CVM lock

It does have a very fine crimp and is quite soft. When it arrived, it was a scorcher, and the lanolin was kinda liquid in my hands. Ever have that happen to you? Kinda weird.

Laid out, I could see all the different colors:

V for Variegated

Cool, eh?

CVM's are Romeldales (but not all Romeldales are CVM's) and were specially bred for their colors. There aren't too many of them around, and I think the fleeces are generally on the finer side, so they're also rather pricey.

I wasn't sure what to do, but I knew I wanted to separate out the colors. If I combed or carded the locks willy nilly, then the colors would blend and average out, and I'd lose the range.

It took a while.

the last of it - done!

But it was kinda fun.

bagged and tagged!

I think I overcategorized. After a while it was hard to figure out into which batch the locks should go.

Of course, I couldn't leave well enough alone. I had to try some out. So I washed some locks of the lightest 2 shades:

left: lightest; right: slightly darker

See what I mean? You can hardly tell the difference!

While most locks were quite soft and had a staple of about 4", some were coarser, and some here and there were shorter. Quite natural in a fleece, I think. There were small bits of second cuts, but they were easy to separate out. I considered sorting out the coarser and shorter locks, but the overcategorization was making me dizzy. I might go back and do it later.

Dry locks:

And dry

I brought some to work to photograph. See the color gradations? In't cool?

Somma da colors

Here's a comparison of the two lightest colors:

2 shades

But when they're brushed out:

lightest shade

you can hardly tell. Below is the slightly darker one, look how much lighter it looks brushed!

next lightest shade
slightly darker

It also looks a bit yellow at the tips. Not sure what that's from.

The tips are dirtier and rougher than I expected. Most of it is just dirt that comes out when flick carded.*

The plan is to spin some up and see what it wants to become. Some of the ideas floating around my head:

  • A sweater with some fair isle or multi-color detail utilizing diferent shades, and probably dyed as well.
  • A lace shawl that gradually goes from lightest at the top to darkest at the bottom.

I'm sure I'll come up with more as I play.

Oh yeah. That fleece muse? Working overtime. I found The White Barn Farm through the Sheepy Thyme Farm website, and loved their fleeces (also CVM). Their fleeces are all sold for this year, so I, ahem, reserved one for next year. Mabel. Her coat will be mine, oh yes. ;)

Kim sent some samples so I could get an idea. Samples are a good thing, people! Since her fleeces were all sold, she sent me some "seconds" from the bits that are skirted out of the sold fleeces. I think they look great. Look at the crimp and color! I especially like the dark grey one at the bottom. Now don't you want to get a CVM fleece??

samples from The White Barn Farm

* Edited to add: sheepshepherdess's comment reminded me: the fleece was very clean with very little vegetable matter. It was indeed well-skirted and the waste when sorting was very minimal! Also, Ana sent me a link to an article in Sheep! magazine written by Bonnie at Sheepy Thyme Farm, which I enjoyed reading. They really care about their sheep and fleeces!