Here's a picture of the fleece, straight off of the sheep:
And a picture of a few of the locks. Look at the lovely length and crimp.
But did you also see the brown tips? I found this a bit confusing, if the fleece was so clean, it must have been a coated sheep, yet the brown tips seem to indicate to me that the sheep was in the sun, causing that sunburning of the tips. The tips were certainly dry and coarse as if affected by the sun.
Now here's a bit of advice you will not hear from many fiberholics. Do not _ever_ tempt the fibers fates by saying you will _never_ do something. The trickster coyote of whatever existing fiber deities heard me when I said I would never bother with the time consuming task of cutting tips off of every lock. Ahh but I had spun fleece with these dead tips in place before. Yes it gives an interesting tweedy look to the yarn, yes it makes the yarn uniquely handspun, but, there was this fleece that I purchased specifically for the hope of a very black lace weight yarn. Why would I want those tips there? I could hear the trickster coyote baying his laugh, as I sat for two lovely spring mornings, CUTTING OFF EVERY TIP I COULD FIND!
Actually it was delightful work, and one of the main reasons I wrote the previous post about the enviable chance to enjoy several wonderful spring days at my country place. And the final results really did make a big difference.
I spent three days washing the fleece, a third at a time, a process I also enjoy. The fleece fluffed up into lovely black puffs with occasional gray strands, but no dead brown in sight.
The next part of my processing is to decide what needs to be done to spin the yarn I want. I could take a washed lock, and draft straight from that, but an experimental try at that showed that with regular frequency, a tiny bump, a nub of fiber would draft out too. And spinning fine lace weight would really show those nubs. Carding would only incorporate them into the batt, so that left no choice but to comb the fiber creating top. I have very large combs good for the coarser fibers, but this shetland is so fine, I decided to use my smaller hand combs.
At the top of this next photo is a lock of the washed fiber, and below that is the fiber loaded onto the combs.
The next photo shows the fiber combed and partially pulled from the comb. Above the combs is a long drafted piece of top, ready to spin.