tisdag 3 maj 2011

Wensleydale. My Fiber Studies 21

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

Wensleydale sheep can be found mostly in Wensleydale in North Yorkshire. The rams are used for crossing with local hill breeds, producing crossings like the Masham for meat and wool. They are big, strong sheep with dark skin and big top knots. Wensleydale is listed as "At Risk" by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
Photo from Beautiful Sheep almanac 2011

The Wool

Wensleydale wool has high lustre and silkyness. The staple length is 20-30 mm, the micron count 26-30. It's one of the finest of the luster longwools. It's used in many kinds of textiles, mostly for garments. It's also used for blending with other wools to add strength an luster. Wensleydales are white to creamy, and you can also find small flocks of black sheep.

My Experience

Raw fiber that I washed and prepared.

Worsted yarn sample

Preparation: hand combed on Valkyrie Extra Fine combs
Spinning wheel: Louet Victoria
Ratio spinning and plying: 1:8.5
TPI in singles: 12
TPI in worsted 2-ply: 8
WPI in singles: 30
WPI in finished 2-ply: 17
Twist angle in singles: 50
Twist angle in finished 2-ply: 45

A lovely fiber from The Spinning Loft! It's the first fiber I've combed with my brand new Valkyrie Extra Fine combs. The combs are designed for finer and shorter fibers than Wensleydale, but I took care in not to load the combs too full and to be careful when combing. The result was wonderful tops with nothing else than the longest and strongest fibers in them. They were very easy to spin.

I spun a fine short forward worsted 2-ply and from the left overs on one bobbin a 3-ply navajo.

Woolen yarn sample
Preparation: standard Finnish handcarders
Spinning wheel: Louet Victoria
Ratio spinning: 1:13
Ratio plying: 1:8.5
TPI in singles: 9
TPI in finished 2-ply: 6
WPI in woolen singles: 20
WPI in finished 2-ply: 13
Twist angle in singles: 50
Twist angle in finished 2-ply: 50

I got a lot of combing waste, which I carded on my standard Finnish handcarders. I spun a 2-ply woolen yarn, trying not to smooth out all the neps.


I loved working with this wool. I was happy to get a sample of the extremely rare black Wensleydale in The Spinning Loft's Super Sampler package. The two yarns I spun are both nice. I like the color changes and the structure of the woolen yarn, and I like the lustre of the worsted one. Both are very strong yarns.
Woolen to the left, worsted to the right

Read More
Rare Breeds Survival Trust
Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Breeders

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
British Sheep & Wool. British Wool Marketing Board, 2010