onsdag 18 maj 2011

Cheviot. My Fiber Studies 23

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

Cheviots have a fascinating history. It's far too complicated for a short blog post, so I suggest you read more in literature and on internet. There are two links to very informative blog posts from Deborah Robson in the "Read More" section below. I suggest you start with them, and continue with Deb's book The Fleece & Fiber Source Book.

Shortly, it's an old breed, and there are several different Cheviots, Border, North Country, South Country, American. They origin in the Cheviot Hills on the Scottish border, and they have been around since the late 1300s. Cheviots were imported to US in 1838, and to Australia 1938. As often happens when a breed is introduced in new surroundings, it changes. That has happened both to the American and the Australian Cheviots. They are not the same as the British ones.

Cheviot sheep are not threatened, but Cheviot wool is, as the breed is mainly bred for meat in our days.

The Wool

The white wool is of down type, with high crimp, light, dense and strong. The British Wool Marketing Board classifies Cheviot as "Hill" type wool. The staple length is 7-13 cm, the micron count 28-33 or harsher. Cheviot has traditionally been used for tweeds, but also for knitting yarns. Cheviot is often used to blend with other wools to create a lofty yarn.

My Experience

I had a small wool sample of unknown origin, but very nice Cheviot from the Super Sampler package I bought from The Spinning Loft.

Preparation: I washed the raw fleece sample, then combed it on Valkyrie Extra Fine combs
Spinning wheel: Louet Victoria
Ratio: 1:8.5
Twists per inch TPI in singles: 8
TPI in finished 3-ply yarn: 16
Wraps per inch WPI in singles: 38
WPI in finished 3-ply yarn: 14
Twist angle in singles: 45
Twist angle in finished 3-ply yarn: 45 

Crimpy, short wool like Cheviot is usually carded, but I wanted to use my new combs, so I combed. The result was wonderful: lofty, even tops. As I wanted a lofty and elastic yarn, I chose the woolen draft and 3-ply.

This time I just wished to sit back, relax and spin, not thinking too much about what I was doing. I spun only one yarn. I chose a rather low whorl for the spinning so I wouldn't get very much twist in the thin singles. I just let the wheel do the job, held very lightly on to to the wool and enjoyed.

Then I plied with a little more twist, but with the same ratio. I always ply by measuring the singles between my hands before I let the yarn wind on to the bobbin. In that way I don't have to think while plying. Once I have decided the twist, I just pull with my left hand until I have reached as far as I decided I should while keeping the singles in order with my right hand, then I wind on, pull, wind on...

I look out of the window and see whatever there is to see. Right now there are tractors. Are they mating?? They seem to multiply... Whatever they're doing they raise a dust cloud over the valley, no use hanging laundry out this time of the year, or cleaning windows.

What an easy fiber to spin! I had a great time. I got a yarn I could use for lots of different garments, but this is only a sample so it won't be used in anything else than a swatch.
Swatch pattern from Barbara C. Walker's Charted Knitting Designs 3
Read More

Cheviot Sheep Society
American Cheviot Sheep Society
Wikipedia with links to three different Cheviots
Deborah Robson on Cheviots
Deborah Robson on Cheviots

Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook. Storey Publishing, 2011
M. L. Ryder, Sheep & Man. Duckworth, 2007
Nola & Jane Fournier, In Sheep's Clothing. Interweave Press, 1995
Clara Parkes, The Knitter's Book of Wool. Potter Craft, 2009
British Sheep & Wool. British Wool Marketing Board, 2010