torsdag 10 februari 2011

American Jacob. My Fiber Studies 8

I take part in the SpinDoctor Rare Breed Wool Challenge on Ravelry. My blog posts are tagged SpinDoctor. The Challenge ends June 30th 2011. You find SpinDoctor's podcasts in my Link list to the right.

The Sheep

The history of Jacob sheep is undergoing a revision right now, but it is clear that the breed is very old. The name "Jacob" was given to this particular sheep as late as the 20th century. The breed was imported to North America at the beginning of the 1900s. The status of the American Jacob is "threatened" in the list of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. The sheep is multihorned. Most sheep have four horns. Photos here: Jacob Sheep Breeders Association

The American small holders have bred for fleece trying to preserve the historical look of the sheep, while in UK other breeds have been introduced in order to get bigger sheep for more meat.

The wool

The color of the sheep is piebold, spotted in black (dark brown), gray (also called "lilac"), and white. The sheep looks hairy and shaggy, but the fleece has no outer coat. The wool from American Jacob is much appreciated by handspinners.

Preparation and Spinning
Combs: Louet one row mini combs
Wheel: Louet Victoria
Ratio: 1:8.5
Singles' WPI on my wpi-tool: 24 at an average

I scoured the fleece sample, and when it was dry separated it into small heaps of white, brown, light gray and a little bigger heap with colors that couldn't be easily separated. I combed the white, brown, gray and mixed heap as they were and spun four 2-ply yarns. But first I took some of the white and brown aside and combed and spun a humbug yarn, and some of the white, gray and brown into a darker gray yarn. I got six nice yarns. The staple length was 4-8 cm, the brown being the shortest and most difficult to comb and spin. My nice Louet one row mini combs are fantastic! They comb almost anything.

When washed I found that the hand of the yarns goes from the soft in the white to the little coarser in the brown according to color, so the dark gray is in between. That is normal, as colored fleece usually is coarser than white. The white skein has a luster I think is semilustrous, the brown has almost no luster. The rest are in between those two. There was no kemp and the wool was very soft, so I think I got lamb's wool in my super sampler package from The Spinning Loft. Some lambs may have outer coat which is later shed, so perhaps my fleece was from a second shearing. Hard to say for me. I know almost nothing about Jacobs.

This was lovely Jacob, and it was fun to work with. Last year I spun German Jacob from mill carded roving, and it was coarse and full of kemp, so I didn't like it very much but thought it would be good in a cardigan or sweater. I'm still knitting that sweater... it sheds all over me and I keep thinking it will never stop. I have to put a lining in it if I ever get it finished.

German Jacob (gray), Leongberger and wool (beige) and a wool-mix yarn, all handspun. You can  see the white coarse kemp fibers in my knitting

Read more
Jacob Sheep Breeders Association
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook. Storey Publishing, to be released May 2011