fredag 25 mars 2011

Boreray. My Fiber Studies 17

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

The Sheep

This sheep is one of the island sheep from the North Atlantic off the Scottish coast. They have an interesting history, which you can read more about in the links below. They really do look a bit wild, with their shaggy fleece and dangerous looking horns. The state of the breed is critical.

              Photo in British Sheep & Wool, p. 155

The Wool

The wool shows a wide variety of fibers: soft undercoat, soft to harsh overcoat, and kemp, with a micron count of 18-35 and even coarser. It's used for tweeds and other fabrics, and can also be used in knitting yarns. The colors range from light gray to brown and black.

My Experience

Preparation: combing and carding, and opening locks with my fingers
Spinning Wheel: Louet Victoria
Ratio: 1:8.5

The samples of fleece I got from Jane had been chosen with care to make a spinner happy: there was a lot of different fiber types. So many interesting fibers to spin! I roughly divided them into heaps: undercoat, over coat, both under and over, and in grey and offwhite. The fibers came from four different fleeces.

I combed some of the fibers, carded some. I pulled out the undercoat from a couple of samples.

I spun the rolags and tops with both woolen and worsted draw and a lot of twist to keep all the fibers in the yarns. I found myself changing my drafting a bit once in a while, but it seemed as if most of the fibers and preparations wanted to be spun worsted. I spun the coarsest fibers from the locks without preparing, only opened the locks with my fingers and spun worsted from the tip end.

In the yarns you can see the soft undercoat, hair (overcoat) and kemp. Some of the hair is quite soft, but there's also quite harsh hair.


What joy! Last spring I thought I'd spin primitive wool only if I have to. After my class with Deborah Robson in August I found I would gladly spin these wools again. I hadn't spun rare breeds before that, but Finnsheep and Finn crossbreeds have a large range of wool types, and that's what I spun in the 80s and 90s until exhaustion. Now I look at them with new eyes. I think I might start looking for funny fleeces among the meat sheep in the neighborhood.

The Boreray with all these wooltypes is so challenging, a wonderful fiber to work with. In the samples above you can see quite soft yarns suitable for spinning and weaving, stronger yarns that could be used in outdoor sweaters, and harsh strong yarns for weaving.

Yes, I want to work with this wool again.

Read More

Boreray sheep
Rare Breeds Survival Trust

M.L. Ryder, Sheep & Man. Duckworth, 2007
British Sheep & Wool. British Wool Marketing Board, 2010
Nola & Jane Fournier, In Sheep's Clothing. Interweave Press, 1995
Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook. Storey Publishing, to be released in May 2011