Spinning My Own (Much Smaller) Great White Bale

This year, I’m doing something about my fleece stash. Specifically, I’m going to do something about the washed and unwashed fleece stuffed into the corners of my craft room. Here are the rules:

  • If a fleece is unwashed, I will wash it! All the spinning blogs are telling me how dangerous it is to store it dirty.
  • If a fleece is unprocessed, I will process it. This might mean hand carding (I don’t have a machine) or simply arranging the fiber appropriately for spinning from the lock. Maybe I’ll learn to comb fleece. Maybe I’ll resort to sending my fleece to a mill for processing.
  • If washed fleece is unspun, I will spin it. Not that there is really any special urgency after I get it all washed up, but I need to prove to myself that I can make yarn from raw fleece–a mental hurdle I mean to conquer.
  • Once my fleece is spun, I will knit with it. A sweater from raw fleece, I’m bound and determined.

Many of you have probably heard about Clara Parkes and her Great White Bale. 

In 2013, I procured a very special, 676-pound bale of superfine Saxon Merino—my Great White Bale—and took it to mills and dyers around the country to see what we could do with it.

Nestled in the corner of my craft room, I have my very own great white bale: a creamy white Texel fleece I purchased and split with my mother. I’m starting with this one because mom already took care of the washing for both of us. She even sorted it into three categories for me:

  • Best quality
  • Belly Wool (check for tenderness)
  • Fluff

Best mom ever.

This weekend I spent hours flicking the locks, then hand carding the locks into rolags.

texel 2

A large bundle of fluffy rolags now rests next to the couch by the wheel. Ready to spin.

texel 1


  1. I can’t wait until we get carders and can move our washed fleece towards finished products! Sheep to Scarf is one of my goals for this year!!! Keep up the good stash progress!

  2. Oh dear, I have three fleeces (two shetland & one unidentified) in my garden shed, unwashed. By ‘dangerous’ do you mean it spontaneously combusts or something if not washed? Maybe it just breeds some nasty bacteria that will then kill me if I start to deal with it in a few months when the weather is good for drying it. Help!!!

  3. Do it! And keep posting about it. I love washing/processing fleece, and thus I love reading about it as well.

  4. How beautiful to have all those rolags ready for a sessions of spinning. I admire your discipline, I find it hard to wait through the carding process to spin some of it, though I know doing so, will make it faster and easier to keep my yarn consistent (in twist and diameter) for what I want to knit. How fun! Every thing in it’s season, I try to remind myself.

    • It was fun, although I could have done with some back support. Sitting cross legged on the floor starts to hurt after a while.

  5. Q – Wonderful idea! Color me green….. I wish one of my girls would get the knitting/spinning bug. I’ve tried! Three daughters, you’d think one of them would get it! LOL!

  6. Hi! I am also impressed by your determination, and look forward to hearing how it goes.
    Now for an off-topic question – I was browsing your previous posts and saw the one about knitting groups. I’m in Rochester MN and was wondering what is the name of your Ravelry group? I’m interested in checking it out. Thanks!

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