tisdag 11 januari 2011

Cotswold. My Fiber Studies 3

                         Cotswold ram on the cover of Beautiful Sheep Journal

I take part in the SpinDoctor Wool Breed Challenge on Ravelry. My blog posts are tagged "SpinDoctor". The Challenge ends June 30th 2011.

The Sheep

Cotswold is a large longwool sheep with a long history. It was established in the 13th century in UK and the modern form was being developed about 1780 to 1820, and was imported to the USA about that time. The sheep has dark skin on the nose and a big forelock. It is polled (no horns). It is now considered a minority sheep on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust list, and as threatened on the American  Livestock Breeds Conservancy list. In the Cotswolds in UK it is still a predominant breed. It's a dual purpose breed for meat and wool.

The Wool

The fleece is heavy, 4-7 kg, with a staple length of 15-25 cm The micron range goes from 35-38 (in "British Sheep & Wool") and 38-48 (American Livestock Breeds Conservancy). The wool is used in carpets, furnishing, and various textile crafts. It's quite common among handspinners, called "the poor man's mohair" and "the golden fleece" among other nicknames. The lock structure is open and wavy. The wool is silky, lustrous and strong and takes dyes well. The finer grades can be used in garments.

My experience

I'm not used to spinning wool as long as this. I tried it for a few minutes in my Rare Wools class for Deborah Robson in Stirling, Scotland, in August 2010. I got a few locks with me from that class, and spun them for this fiber study. I combed them on Louet one row mini combs, and that was a pleasure! The wool felt soft, and it has great luster, but it's not the kind of wool I would not use it next to skin. Some of the locks are pure white, some yellowish. I didn't take a photo of the locks, but as I remember it they where of different lengths and micron range, so they where from different parts of the body.

OK. Louet Victoria, standard flyer and bobbin. Here we go.

Samples 1-3 ratio 1:6 (biggest whorl). Singles z-twist
1st sample. Short forward draw feels awkward.
2nd sample. Short backward draw feels better, but I'm not quite comfortable yet.
3rd sample. From the fold. This works best until now.

Samples 4-6 ratio 1:8:5 (middle whorl). Singles z-twist, 2-ply s-twist.
4th sample. This time I predrafted the top, and let the flyer pull the yarn without helping very much with drafting. I plied in S for a 2-ply yarn. This was the best yarn so far, and the easiest to spin.

5th sample. I dyed the last four combed locks with acid dyes and spun them in the same way as the 4th sample. I spun a short thread in the same way as the 4th sample and let it fold back into a 2-ply after first threading a warp on a piece of cardboard. I took a third singles and sew it together with the 2-ply into the weft. It would be interesting to weave decorative textiles for a window or wall with Cotswold yarn. The longest locks could be used as effects also.

6th sample. I spun one thread the same way as sample 4 and then plied it with a green longwool/Tencel thread I found in my stash. I aimed for at slightly structured yarn I could use in a small weft, but for now it stays in my sample collection.

More techniques to try when I get more fiber: open the locks into fluff and spin from that with different drafting techniques such as longdraw. Boucle. Artyarns.

After washing the white skeins I can see that the yellow color is still there in some of them. I used Ecover Sensitive laundry detergent which usually takes away anything, but not this time. Look out for stained fleece, then, if you are going to buy some. Or, you can dye it, as I did with the last sample.


If I would start weaving again, I would sample with different directions of twist to see what that would do to a cloth. Say z-spun for the warp and z-spun for the weft, and s-spun for the warp and s-spun for the weft, and s-spun for the warp and z-spun for the weft etc. Uneven art yarns with slubs or knots would be interesting to weave. Cotswold boucle. Cotswold has many dimensions. One is that it will halo as the long fibers start coming up from the yarn when you use it.

My appetite has grown :)
                                         Combed lock, samples 1, 2, 3, 4
                                           Samples 6 and 5

Read more:
InternetThe Cotswold Sheep SocietyRare Breeds Survival Trust , American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
British Sheep & Wool. British Wool Marketing Board, 2010
Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, The Fleece and Fiber Source Book. Storey Publishing, to be released in May 2011
Nola & Jane Fournier, In Sheep's Clothing. Interweave Press, 2003
Clara Parkes, The Knitter's Book of Wool, 2009
M.L. Ryder, Sheep and Man. Duckworth, 2007
Beautiful SheepJournal. Ivy Press, 2010
Several spinning groups on Ravelry have discussed Cotswold