January 24, 2011

Wool Breeds Challenge - Falkland and Cheviot


Falkland wool comes from sheep grown on the Falkland Islands. It is not a distinct breed but rather a crossbreed of mainly Corriedale and Polwarth. . Therefore, there is no mention of a Falkland sheep in either In Sheep's Clothing or The Knitter's Book of Wool. I did an internet search for Falkland sheep and found several references to it, including the following from the Falkland Islands government site and Crown Mountain Farms. Both mentioned the lack of synthetics and chemicals used in growing the fleece.

The Falkland I spun was dyed top from Crown Mountain Farms (Purple Rain colorway), and I found very little difference in either feel or draft-ability between the Falkland and the Merino I've spun (also from CMF). The Falkland is not quite as soft and not quite as smooth but still very nice to work with.

This first skein was spun in my default semi-worsted style and chain plied, both on spindles. The only problem I found (actually just a little annoyance) was when smoothing the freshly twisted single it didn't really feel smooth but more like I was ruffling the wool scales back (if that makes any sense). And it didn't seem to make a difference which end of the top I spun from, or whether I spun semi-worsted or true worsted. I got used to it eventually, but it made me wonder what this wool would be like to spin woolen. Perhaps if my next bump of Falkland is a natural, solid or semi-solid color I might try carding the top and spinning woolen. Something to look forward to.
I would very much like to spin this again.

Falkland top



Like the Dorset Horn I spun a few weeks ago, Cheviot is one of the Down breeds.  According to The Knitter's Book of Wool it has a micron count of 27-33 and an average staple length of 3 to 5 inches. 

This sample was spun from pre-processed fiber from the Spinning Loft's sampler (as was the Dorset Horn).  Again, I'm not quite sure what the prep is, combed or carded.  It might be pin-drafted roving? maybe?  But as I've never seen that, I'm just guessing.  The fibers are somewhat aligned but then again not.  Regardless, I chose to spin long draw, but because of the unknown prep, it should more acurately be called semi-woolen.

Cheviot feels very similar to the Dorset Horn - spongy, heavy or dense - and maybe a little bit softer.  It drafted very easily and gave me fairly thin singles which I made into a three ply yarn.   My small sample skein ended up as approximately 37 yards of three-ply with a wpi in the 14-18 range. 

It was easy to spin and I would spin it again.  I think it would lend itself to worsted spinning more easily than the Dorset Horn, and in the future I would choose between Cheviot and Dorset Horn based on how I planned to spin - Cheviot for worsted and Dorset Horn for woolen.

Cheviot sample

January 15, 2011

Wool Breeds Challenge - Romney

Romney is a Longwool breed with a fineness count of 32-39 microns, in otherwords kinda scratchy, and a staple length of 5 to 8 inches (per the Knitter's Book of Wool).

This particular sample is of pre-washed Romney fleece from  katrinaswoolworld.etsy.com  

Romney fleece (washed)

I have not gone through the entire bag of fleece, but what I have gone through has sections with a lot (to me) of VM concentrated in spots.  These locks I'm separating from the cleaner, ready to comb/card locks, and will flick-clean them later (using my little dog slicker).  

 The staple length seems short (only 3-4") compared to breed standard.  It is clean, lanolinwise, and feels softer in lock than the micron count would suggest.  However, the first single I spun was prickly and unconfortable to handle.  And the first very small sample of two ply I made wasn't much better.

The breed standard staple length suggested it should be combed and spun worsted, however, my locks are shorter than standard so I tried carding as well.  It both cards and combs easily.  I tried spinning worsted and woolen from carded and combed prep and finally settled on spinning semi woolen (spinning woolen from combed prep).  I chose this because it made my singles feel softer and less scratchy.  There is a lot of waste from the combed prep which doesn't look too bad, so I'm saving it to card up, picking out the little neps and little balls of very short fibers. 

This is a closeup of my sample skein - three-ply, spun semi-woolen, guessing probably worsted weight - I haven't checked wpi yet.

Romney 3ply

It came out better than I anticipated.  I think three-ply was a good choice.  It is light and soft enough to use for mittens, hats, anything worn over something else, and possibly a scarf.   However, the jury is still out on whether I like this enough to spin again.   I know a lot of books suggest Romney as a good wool for beginners to spin, but I did not find it as easy to spin as suggested.  Perhaps that is the fault of my prep and not the wool, but still...I have to think about this more.  Maybe by the time I've finished spinning the whole bag I'll change my mind. 

Mid-January On & Offs

On/Off My Needles

Cast on another pr of socks - this time trying Magic Loop - vanilla sock for me in  Cables & Lace Lizard Toes  "Gluttony" colorway, a really nice rich blue.

Gluttony sock beginnings

Still working on the Shetland Pi shawl, BBS for SFS, and socks for mom and me.

No finished knitting, possibly because...

On My Spindle

Spinning another bump of the Merino/Bamboo/Silk blend from Crown Mtn Farms, this time for Queenknit.  I'm spinning semi-worsted from the fold (it's really slippery and that gives me better control) at about 40wpi which with a two-ply should give me a fingering weight yarn.

Cheviot sample for the Spindoctors Wool Breed Challenge. Spinning woolen, 3ply.

Chain plying the Purple Rain colorway of Falkland also from CMF, as well as finishing spinning the final third of the 8oz bump.  This is also for the Wool Breeds Challenge.

Spinning cotton on drop spindle, or rather learning to spin cotton on spindle.  I tried the tahkli but we didn't get along very well, so I switched to my 1oz Golding (ok, technically it's .95oz, but really).  I can get really good spin speed on that spindle which is why it's currently in use on the Cheviot sample (woolen spinning).  I'm planning on using the cotton I spin to tie skeins, until I get good enough to use as yarn.

Romney - continuing to comb the fleece and spin.   First sample skein for the Challenge is done.  Settled on spinning semi-woolen (woolen spun from combed prep), three-ply.  The comb waste isn't too bad so I'm carding that, picking out the bad bits, and also spinning that woolen. 

Romney 3ply

And yes, that's Miss Ginger to the right, giving me her 'why you taking picture of dat ting, take picture of me, I'm cuter' pose.  And when I didn't, she snagged the skein and tried to pull it out of my hand, or maybe just bring it closer so she's in frame - dumb she ain't.    ; )

Off My Spindle
Dorset Horn sample for the Challenge (see previous post) - 72 yards of two ply, semi-woolen spun.  I saved a sample of unset singles as well as a piece of the original roving.   I have a two ounce sample of raw Dorset Horn fleece to wash and prep, and I wanted something to compare it to.  I don't think I'm going to touch the raw fleece samples I have (10 of them) until the Spring, though.

Corriedale from Fleece.  I know I started carding this before the Wool Breeds Challenge started and I think I started spinning before too, so I'm withdrawing this from the Challenge.  But anyway, it's done.  From six ounces of pre-washed fleece I got about 268 yards of three-ply with wpi in the 10-13wpi range.  It came out much nicer than I expected given how bumpy and neppy the carded prep was. 

Corriedale from Fleece

January 10, 2011

Wool Breeds Challenge - Dorset Horn

Comments from my spinning journal:
Dorset Horn

According to The Knitters Book of Wool and In Sheep's Clothing, Dorset Horn is one of the Down/Down-type breeds, has a fineness count of 27-33 microns and an average staple length of 2.5 to 4 inches. And it can be spun either woolen or worsted.

This sample is about one ounce of processed top or roving.   I think there some lanolin still in this particular sample, not a lot, just enough to make my hands feel nice. Feels spongy, not soft as compared to the Corriedale I just finished, but not really coarse as compared to the Romney I'm currently working on, and a bit heavy or dense. This is screaming woolen spun to me.

Will try spinning woolen for a two-ply sample (try because I've never actually spun true woolen before - semi-woolen maybe but not woolen). Using the walnut spindle (1.5oz). Not sure how this sample was prepped. I think it's top but I'm not sure. Short staple 2.5".

This is proving easier to spin woolen when I spin from the fold. And I think I'm actually doing a real honest to goodness long draw. Woot, Woot!!   It takes a lot of concentration to keep myself from smoothing the yarn though. Must remember to trust the twist. It's just magic when the slubs smooth out. So cool!

I think this might be good for mittens. I don't think it's soft enough on it's own to wear as a scarf, I.e. next to the neck, but should be nice and warm for mittens or a hat. Will see what it's like after washing. Might be good for a sweater or vest worn over a shirt or blouse.

I would definitely like to spin this again.

Dorset Horn

Edited to add more pics:

On the plying spindle:

Dorset Horn

Finished and Dried:

Dorset Horn post wash