tisdag 4 januari 2011

Hebridean. My Fiber Studies 1

                Louet Victoria standard flyer and bobbin, roving, book British Sheep & Wool

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

The first sheep breed in my fiber studies is the Hebridean. I found 100 grams of roving in New Lanark Mill in Scotland in August 2010. The same week I took a class for Deborah Robson on Rare Wools at UK KnitCamp, where she talked a bit about Hebridean as a breed that has been rare but recovered and now prospers.

Hebridean sheep have lived on the Hebridean Islands off the Scottish west coast since the 9th century. Small, hardy sheep like these are believed to have been brought by Vikings. It belongs to the North European short tailed sheep group. Both rams and ewes have two to four horns. In the 1970s the breed was almost extinct. It was rescued thanks to grazing programs for environmental reasons. These sheep manage with a minimum of care, they are healthy and feral. They are also quite decorative. The breed has also been known under the name "St Kilda" even if it's not from that archipelago.

The sheep is usually black, with a dense, weatherproof fleece. Sometimes it gets grey with age, and the tips become bleached to brown in the sun. The wool is soft to harsh, with a staple length of 5-15 cm. It can be used in various textiles, but is not suitable for garments worn next to the skin. The micron count is a +35.

I drew out a small amount of fiber from my roving and found fibers from 1-12 cm long. The wool had been very thoroughly carded in the mill, far too rough to my likeness, but I can imagine this kind of fleece is difficult to handle in a mill. It would be interesting to work with from fleece, so I'm going to search for some later. This is what I had (roving split lengthwise in thirds):
I spun a semi woolen draft, or against twist, can't really describe it, but it's what I call my "working draft", good for many fibers carded into rovings or rolags. The roving was not easy to spin due to the great differences in fiber length. Average thickness of my singles:

I spun 320 meters 2-ply yarn, and 14 meters navajo 3-ply from the 100 grams of roving. The finished yarn is surprisingly soft and has a nice structure. It would be perfect for outer wear. It's clearly a fiber to like!
I would be warm in a sweater on a day like this, when I took the photo of the finished yarn. There was a partial sun eclipse, and the sun colored the yarn slightly with a yellow tone that looked very pretty. It was -17 C (1.4 F) and little snow in the air.

The Official Hebridean Sheep Society

M. L. Ryder, Sheep and Man.Duckworth, 2007
British Sheep & Wool. British Wool Marketin Board, 2010
Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, The Fleece and Fiber Source Book. Storey Publishing, to be released May 2011
Deborah Robson, UK KnitCamp, Stirling 2010