April 25, 2011

Wool Breeds Challenge - Coopworth and Blue-faced Leicester

Coopworth is a Longwool breed developed in New Zealand during the 1950s and 60s by crossing Border Leicester and Romney breeds. It has luster or shine, an average staple length of six to eight inches, and a micron count of thirty-five to thirty-nine.

My sample is a commercial top preparation, and has a staple length of about four inches (maybe a little more) - shorter than the breed standard.

I spun my sample long draw from the fold for a 3ply yarn. I enjoyed spinning this, but I think that if the staple length had been truer to the breed standard, I might not have liked it. I've found spinning staples of more than five inches (six max) is a struggle and takes me out of my comfort zone (not always a bad thing).


Blue-faced Leicester is also a Longwool breed. It originated in Hexam, Northumberland County, England and is a decendant of the Leicester Longwool. It is sometimes called a Hexam Leicester. Under certain lighting conditions, the short white hairs covering the black skin on their heads makes their faces/heads look blue, hence the name. Blue-faced Leicester, or BFL, should have a micron count of twenty-four to twenty-eight and an average staple length of three to six inches.

My sample is commercially prepared top with a staple length of five plus inches. I've spun very small amounts of BFL before, but as I have two pounds of BFL top that I'm planning on spinning for a sweater project, I thought I'd use this sample as a test on how I'd like to ply for the sweater.

I spun the top from the fold worsted (well, I guess technically that's semi-worsted) for a 3ply yarn. It spun easily. BFL is soft with a bit of shine. Like spinning Merino, I find spinning BFL kinda boring, but I did like the feel of the wool better than a Border Leicester or Lincoln. Anything feels better than Lincoln.

I left a third of my total 3ply yardage as 3ply sample. The remaining two thirds I used to make a 6ply cable yarn which I liked much better than the 3ply. When I get around to testing the actual project BFL, I will try a 4ply cable to see if I like it as much as the six.

BFL samples

Breed information provided by "The Knitter's Book of Wool" by Clara Parkes and "In Sheep's Clothing" by Nola & Jane Fournier.

No comments: