Loopgram: Hooking with Leicester fleece

I have been trying to finish up the fleece and roving central block of Got Wool? It took a while, mainly because preparing the roving to hook is time intensive. I have some photos I took to show how to do it, but I don't have the time today to upload the lesson. SO my evaluation of fleece and roving will take two parts. The first is an evaluation of Leicester wool fleece. It was a special bag of fleece I bought. The hair is very course and shiny and long, so it felt completely different from the average roving I also purchased but which I will discuss in another post. I am posting a picture to the left of what the fleece looks like. I had purchased it to prod the beard of the ram, but when I did this, the prodding looked funny because his face was flat and the beard was sticking out high above the face. I tried shortening it, but this didn't work either. So I cut off the prodded ends and just hooked big high loops to get different texture and show off the gorgeous fleece. I think it worked. Here is a picture of the ram finished and a close up of the fleece section - the ram's beard.

Cutting ease: on a scale from 1 to 5 with one being "Cuts like butter; easy as wool" and five being "So terrible don't bother," Leicester fleece gets a "4". There is no cutting necessary or any other preparation, BUT you do have to separate out the amount of fleece you want and I found it impossible to do so with consistency. In other words, some of the pieces I separated were thicker than others. Thankfully I wanted this sort of variation in the ram's beard. But if I had wanted consistency, it would have been next to impossible to achieve. It was also a hairy process. I mean hairs everywhere I didn't want them, including in my mouth, on my chair, and covering my p.j.s. And every time I had to pull out another piece to hook, I had more hairs shedding. I could have felted by p.j. bottoms by the end of the evening!

Hooking ease: on a scale from 1 to 5 with one being "Hooks like a dream; easy as wool" and five being "Why am I trying this?", Leicester fleece get a "3". It really really slippery, so it pulls great through the linen, and right out again if you aren't careful when you pull the next loop. So I found that I had to pull high loops and then be content with them pulling out a bit when I hooked the next loop. This caused for uneven hooking, but again this is what I wanted in the beard so I was happy with the result. The other trouble was that the fleece wasn't bundled in any way. With roving, there is a process to palm felt it into "yarn" which I will demonstrate in another post. But the fleece was too slippery to felt this way. So I couldn't make palm yarn. This meant that the hook would not necessarily pull all of the hairs up to the top of the linen, no matter how careful I was. Sometimes the hairs would catch in the hook and I would end up with a lopsided loop and have to fish it back out, roll it smooth between my fingers, and then bring the loop up again.

Overall look: on a scale from 1 to 5 where one is "gorgeous like hand-dyed wool" to "bad look even for a bad hair day", Leicester fleece gets "1". It is gorgeous. The sheen and texture is unbelievable. I imagine that I could dye it any color I wanted, but the pure ivory made a stunning beard so there was no need for my dye pot. I am sorry that the prodding didn't work. But the prodded beard overwhelmed the face, and in fact, the entire rug. All I saw was ivory hair sticking up! Once I cut off the prods, I fell in love with the ram. So I think all came out right in the end.

Average evaluation: 2.6 out of 5 or "Maybe more gorgeous than strips but what a lot of hair!"