California Varigated Mutant-A Surprise On The Spindle

I purchased what was advertised as a California Varigated Mutant, (CVM) fleece, last fall at Wisconsin Sheep And Wool Festival. Its unusual to see CVM’s fleeces at this festival and finding it in fantastic shape snapped it up right away.

My first surprise with this fleece is that the lock is fairly unorganized. This personally sends up a red flag. According to the breed standard: The wool should have a well defined crimp from base to tip with no kemp or hair present. While, the fleece is free from kemp and hair, and the crimp is deep, the hand is also more “crisp” then I would expect from its heritage as well as being coarser. So I started working the fleece with a critical eye.

The fluffy rolags worked up nicely. It had been coated and was virtually free of vegetable matter. But the fleece appeared to be sunburned in that it much lighter on the tips. This turned out to be brittle and created neps in the rolag.

And here is a woolen yarn spun from the rolags. Neps and all.

Combing it produced a much smoother, easier to draft product…but the hand once again was not correct. It still felt more like a down breed than what CVM should feel like.

The yarn worked up nicely though.

Overall I think we are going to do this exercise over again. My determination is that this is a CVM cross fleece, probably crossed with a down breed. I will now search for either a Romeldale or CVM fleece from a registered animal. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very nice fleece, it is just does not appear to be from a purebred CVM.

Now for the obligatory puppy update!

Mas is 9 weeks old now and is doing well. Eating well and even training is going well. He is a little Houdini though! He can escape from the kitchen in about 2 seconds given the chance. We will be working through Sue Ailsby’s Training Levels for his basic training with additional training for specific sports, like agility.

Now I’m off to play with my puppy. After he is asleep I’ll spin for the Tour De Fleece!


7 thoughts on “California Varigated Mutant-A Surprise On The Spindle

  1. Interesting comments about the fleece. Since I have CVM sheep, maybe I can comment a bit on what I think?

    First off, are there locks/patches of other colors in the fleece? The key with CVM is the variegated part…my fleeces, you could pull about 4 different colors out of one fleece. If its all solid it should be sold as a Romeldale, which is the same breed, sans color variegation.

    Second, the locks do look short to me. Was this marked as a lamb fleece?

    Third, yep, I would say, that lock structure is missing the “well defined crimp”.

    As far as the lighter, sunburned tips, again, this makes me think this might be a lamb fleece, since you mentioned this was a coated fleece. A lamb fleece of a CVM sheep would have lighter milk tips which wouldn’t be sunburned, since CVM lambs actually get darker as they get older for the first year, but those same tips would tend to be more prone to breaking off and nepping if you aren’t careful.

    CVM wool is unusual in that it gets finer as the sheep get older. My old ram, Fred, he has the finest fleece in terms of micron count of my whole flock. My now 16 month old ewes, I coated them this year and am anticipating a finer fleece next Spring from them than I got this year. lock structure from one of my ewe fleeces this year

    I am thinking that the fleece you bought is from a cross, or the people who own the sheep bought sheep called “CVMs” that aren’t actually CVMs…

    Hope this helps a bit!

  2. Yeah, those are curious “features” in your fleece. It should also have had a fairly soft (soft as nice Corriedale, and even softer) hand, as it goes down to 21 microns according to In Sheep’s Clothing (if I remember correctly; and OKstate lists it at 60s-64s Bradford count).

  3. I had the same sort of trouble with an alleged down breed (Clun Forest) last winter. It was acting like a longwool. grin.

    You made pretty yarn though. I love the color!

  4. Ellen, I pulled out a bunch of CVM and Romeldale locks from my stash, along with the American Sheep Industry Associations’s Sheep Production Handbook, and have put together a few thoughts in a post that I may actually finally get online in a few minutes. I’ve been working on it since you put this message up. I love the variations in wool, although they’re sometimes frustrating and disappointing.

    Love your puppy. We’ve had Houdini dogs, too.

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