torsdag 17 mars 2011

Polwarth. My Fiber Studies 14

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

Polwarth sheep were bred in Australia in the late nineteenth century from 30% Lincoln and 70% Merino.  It's a big and heavy dual purpose sheep for meat and wool. The breed is not rare, but I share it with the SpinDoctor group anyway.

The Wool

This is from Polwarth Sheepbreeders Association of Australia's site:

Polwarths produce a super type wool - stylish, white, long-stapled, soft-handling and high-yielding.
Under average conditions, it is visually a 58s/60s fleece which averages about 23 micron, with a staple length of 100-120mm.  In recent years many studs have dramatically increased the size and fleece weight of their sheep and many commercial flocks now cut an average of 6-7 kg a head.
Polwarth wool has a very high resistance to fleece-rot - repelling water and drying faster than shorter, tighter fleeces - making the breed well suited to wetter areas.
They are straight bodied sheep with few wrinkles which minimises the potential for flystrike.
Polwarth fleeces are very even and because the rams throw to their own wool type, flocks are noticably even and wool clips are easy to class with a minimum number of fleece lines.

There is a fantastic photo on that page: fleece. It looks so soft and the crimp is incredible.

My experience

Preparation: Mill carded roving, dyed
Spinning wheel: Louet Victoria, high speed flyer
Ratio: 1:20
WPI in singles: very, very fine

I tried to spin this roving on one of my supported spindles, but it was difficult so I changed to Vicoria and the high speed flyer. The wool is really fine, and it wanted to be spun very fine. I chose a woolen draw and the fibers run into the yarn easily. I couldn't do anything about the large amount of neps in the roving, so I just let them go into the yarn. They add some interesting texture. I spun two strands of Polwarth and one in Merino-silk, which I spun worsted. I then plied them into a 3-ply sample.
Sample skein spun on Louet Victoria, the "sausage" was spun on a supported spindle


The yarn is quite stretchy even if there is silk in it and one strand was spun worsted. It's the fantastic crimp in the fibers that cause this effect. This would be a perfect yarn for wearing next to skin and for babies, but of course you would have to wash it very carefully to avoid felting and shrinking.

One day I will buy a fleece like the one on the Australian photo. It would be a joy to work with the fleece, and it would be possible to prepare it without neps.

Read more

Polwarth Sheepbreeders Association of Australia