torsdag 5 maj 2011

Dorset Horn. My Fiber Studes 22

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

Dorset Horn is one of the oldest British sheep. Both sexes have horns, and both the sheep and the horns are big. The sheep can breed almost at any time of the year, with two lambings a year or three in 18 months. The New Zealand rare breeds site says it's "very active", whatever that means. The history of the sheep is quite interesting. Dorset Horn and Poll Dorset are closely related. You'll find more information on the New Zealand site, link in the "Read More" section below. Rare Breeds Survival Trust (UK) classifies the breed as Minority, and American Livestock Breeds Concervancy as Threatened.

If you want to see what the sheep look like, please go to the links below.

The Wool

Wool from Dorset Horn is mostly used for mattresses and futons. The wool is very white, fine, soft and crimpy with a staple length of 8-10 cm and a  micron range of 33-34. It can be used in many garments, and handspinners find it most interesting.
Dorset Horn, washed wool

My Experience

Fiber from The Spinning Loft (Super Sampler package). Staple length 4-6 cm, very much crimp, very soft

Preparation: scoured and then hand combed on Valkyrie Extra Fine combs
Spinning wheel: Louet Victoria

I combed the crimpy, short and soft wool because carding was quite impossible. I got awesome tops, bouncy, soft and very clean. My new Valkyrie Extra Fine combs are very, very good tools! Here: Valkyrie.
Tops as they come from the combs: Lincoln longwool to the left, Dorset Horn to the right. Both combed on Valkyrie Extra Fine combs. Two completely different fibers

1st sample. Semi-woolen 2-ply yarn

TPI (twists per inch) in singles ratio 1:8.5: 10
TPI in plyback from ratio 1:8.5: 6
TPI in finished 2-ply yarn from "rolags": 15
WPI (wraps per inch) in singles: 32
WPI in finished 2-ply yarn: 18
Twist angle in singles: 45
Twist angle in finished 2-ply yarn from "rolags": 45

I was a bit nervous about not being able to spin a soft and bouncy yarn. I decided on a woolen draw from the fold. That was not bouncy enough, so I rolled small bits of the top into "rolags", and that worked very well. I also tried ratio 1:6, but that was not good as there was almost no twist at all in the singles so when plied they flattened out. Next time I know not to draw out the top as thin as I did this time if I want to spin from "rolags" made of tops. A thicker top would make bigger "rolags".

The 2-ply spun from mini rolags with woolen draw really bloomed when washed in hot - cold - hot water. WPI in singles was 32, plied and finished 18. TPI in singles was 10, in ply back 6, and 15 in plied finished yarn. This fiber can take a lot of manipulation.

2nd sample. Navajo 3-ply

The same singles as 1st sample
TPI in finished navajo 3-ply yarn: 10
WPI in finished navajo 3-ply yarn: 15
Twist angle in finished navajo 3-ply yarn: 45

This became a bouncy, soft yarn, as one could expect. The bends in the navajo chain adds loftiness too.

3rd sample. Semi-woolen 3-ply yarn

TPI (twists per inch) in singles ratio 1:8.5: 12
TPI in finished 3-ply: 19
WPI (wraps per inch) in singles: 32
WPI in finished 3-ply: 15
Twist angle in singles: 45
Twist angle in finished 3-ply: 45

I made a 3-ply yarn by spinning the tops with a woolen draw without rolling or folding them, using ratio 1:8.5 and a slow drafting speed for better control. I got an even, soft, stretchy yarn.

4th sample. Worsted super fine yarn

TPI in singles spun worsted ratio 1:20: I couldn't count the the twists because I couldn't see them...
TPI in finished worsted 2-ply yarn: 29 (I think)
WPI in singles spun worsted ratio 1:20: I didn't measure
WPI in finished worsted 2-ply: 40

Just for fun I spun a really thin yarn. I changed to high speed flyer and bobbins and ratio 1:20 (I think, I'm not sure about the ratios, middle whorl anyway). If I'd do this again I'd go through the fleece very carefully to get all double cuts out. But it was still easy to spin a super fine yarn. The fibers are so crimpy and so strong that they catch the twist imediately without any fuzz. I used a short backward worsted draw.

5th sample. Slubs and coils

I didn't measure this yarn
This was just for fun also. I spun a few meters of slubs and coils and knitted a swatch. Yarns like this could be used in a hat or a vest. The swatch har considerable strength and holds together well. A baby blanket would be nice too.


I'm still not very good at spinning soft, crimpy fibers, but I'm getting better. I have a tendency to spin too compact yarns with a lot of twist and not much bounciness. The Dorset Horn is one of the softest and crimpiest wools I have ever spun. I had to slow down my treadling and drafting speed quite a lot to be able to master the fibers. It was a good experience. My yarns have bounce and softness.

I have never before spun a fiber with so much memory and with such capasity to do exactly as I wanted. I am amazed and full of wonder! I think I got the neck part of the fleece from the look of some of the locks. That could explain why the the fibers are so soft and so strong. I could pull even the finest singles back from the flyer without it breaking.

Read More

Dorset Horn and Poll Dorset, UK
Dorset Horn, New Zealand
Rare Breeds Survival Trust
American Livestock Breeds Concervancy
Dorsets, USA

British Sheep & Wool. British Wool Marketing Board, 2010
Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, The Fleece & Fiber Source Book, 2011
M. L. Ryder, Sheep & Man. Duckworth, 2007
Nola & Jane Fournier, In Sheep's Clothing. Interweave Press, 1995