One of the things I rather love about having connections in the country is how easy it is to acquire fleeces for spinning. For someone with a few pet sheep or camelids, or cross-breed sheep raised for meat, they still have to shear, but it's not usually worth the time and gas for them to bring the fleece somewhere to sell. People get to hear through the grapevine that I spin, and fleece falls into my lap.
Like this weekend. My cousins are starting up a flock of meat sheep, bought parts of two flocks from different people, and two guard llamas from someone else. And the sheep were sheared recently, so they wanted to know whether I could use some of the fleece, and whether I might want the llamas' fleeces also, since the co-op they're sending the fleece to doesn't take llama. There you are. I got to spend an hour or two Saturday picking over the fleece. Some are really more like coarse hair, but some were fine and crimpy and lovely (if a bit dirty, as you can see in the picture), but I came away with a garbage bag of stuff that washed out white and soft. Still don't know what the breeds involved were, but it's nice!
The llamas are not shorn yet, but when they are, I get that too. Price? One handspun item from the fleece. Can do.
Plus, it's lambing season, so I got to visit with the lambs. My aunt was on midwife duty - one had dropped triplets that morning, and another had twins while we were picking over the fleece. I got to hold one of the morning's lambs - still with a bit of umbilical cord dangling, and tiny fleece curls like embroidered french knots. The count at that point was 85 lambs, and to keep them organized they were all numbered and color-coded. Sheep from one flock had pink numbers, and the other had purple, painted on the back, and the lambs had the same numbers as the mother. Talk about counting sheep!
While batches of that fleece soaked, I picked and dehaired llama. This one came from someone my mother knows. She came up to me at the local Fair a few years ago, said she had heard from my mother I spin, and she had a llama. They had shorn him when the weather got warm, so he would be more comfortable, but now there was a garbage bag of fleece in her garage, and could I use it? And in due time, a bag of fleece arrived. It's quite a nice grey-brown, soft, and not dirty - but oh, so full of hay. Either he's very fond of rolling in it, or he believes in keeping emergency snacks stashed on him at all times.
I'm going to lose a lot, either to felting due to my taking a couple years to get to it, or to short and excessively hay-filled bits. But I've got a couple hundred grams cleaned already, so enough to do something as a thank you, and some over, for sure. And I will be certain to clean the next llama fleeces promptly.