I take part in the SpinDoctor Wool Breed Challenge on Ravelry. My blog posts are tagged "SpinDoctor". The Challenge ends June 30th 2011.
This sheep has been bred from several breeds on the border of Shropshire and Powys in UK. Clun Forest is not on the UK Rare Breeds Survival Trust's list, but is listed as "Recovering" by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. It's a hornless sheep with dark brown face and legs, and with a small forelock. I don't have photos of it, but there are pictures here: Timberwood Farm and Fiber
The wool is white to creamy, with a staple lenght of 5-8 cm. The micron range is 29-32. "The main uses of the Clun fleece are fine hosiery, felts, knitting wool and futons" says The British Wool Marketing Board, and the North American Clun Forest Association says it's a fiber for handspinners. The fleece is dense and fine with a crimp that make the fibers bounce away from each other. Below a hand combed top.
My experienceThere was 2 oz of raw Clun Forest in a sample package from The Spinning Loft. The wool looked dense and finely crimped, felt bouncy.
I scoured the wool, and when it was dry I tried carding a few locks, but it was difficult so I didn't want to continue. I rolled it off into a puni. When I stretched it I got a dread lock! For a moment I felt a deep temptation to dye the fleece and only make dreads :) But first I tried the dog comb, and that was not good at all. Then I tried my one row Louet mini combs, and got a bouncy good looking top. So I combed the rest of the wool and thought I'd try to remember the dreads if I ever wanted to make more of them.
Spinning was easy. The tops were like bubble gum, stretchy and bouncy. I spun two different yarns from the same hand combed tops. I plied both yarns into 3-plies on my midi bossie.
1st sample: I wanted to try a woolen draft for these rolag looking combed tops, so I used my wonderful supported Skimo spindle for a semi-woolen, double drafted technique. I really liked that! The yarn felt soft and quite stretchy.
2nd sample: I then spun a classic worsted yarn on a mini bossie. The fibers ran soft and smooth from the tops. The yarn felt less soft and stretchy than the semi-woolen, just as it should.
Semi-woolen 3-ply yarn to the left, worsted 3-ply to the right
I knitted a swatch with 22 stitches on needles 3 mm. The woolen yarn has less stitch definition because it's softer. The worsted yarn was fast and nice to knit, a very good yarn if I may say so myself. For a sweater I would choose the worsted yarn. It has greater luster and feels strong.
Semi-woolen yarn under, worsted above
A very nice fiber at least in this sample. One have to remember that I only used a very small sample from one fleece, so fiber from another part of the fleece or another sheep might be totally different. I would certainly like to try more of this wool.
Clun Forest Sheep Breeders Society
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
North American Clun Forest Association
British Wool & Sheep. British Wool Marketing Board, 2010
Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook. Storey Publishing, to be released May 2011.
Spin Off Magazine, Spring 2009
M. L. Ryder, Sheep & Man. Duckworth, 2007.