måndag 24 januari 2011

Manx Loaghtan. My Fiber Studies 5

I take part in the SpinDoctor Wool Breed Challenge on Ravelry. My blog posts are tagged "SpinDoctor". The Challenge ends June 30th 2011.

The Sheep

This is a weird looking sheep, like something from a fantasy story :) The Manx word "loaghtan" means "mouse brown". The lambs are born black. The sheep has lived on the Isle of Man for more than a thousand years. Both rams and ewes have four to six horns. It's a short tailed Northern European sheep, but the length of the tail varies. The sheep are small and fine boned. The meat is of high quality.

Manx Loaghtan is classified as "at risk" by Rare Breeds Survival Trust (UK).

                           Picture from "British Sheep & Wool" p. 164
The Wool

Some of these primitive sheep shed their fleece in spring, others have to be shorn. The staple length is 6-12 cm. The micron range is fine to medium, around 30, but some sheep have a more hairy fleece. The tips are often bleeched into light brown, almost cream. The wooly type is very good for handspinning a lofty, soft, warm yarn.

My Experience

The small heap of Manx Loaghtan I had was full of vegetable matter, matted almost felted tips and matted cut ends with neps. When I looked at it I remembered why I put it away in the autumn when I was spinning the rest of the wool from my class in Stirling. "I'll do it on a better day" I thought.

One of the very good things I learned in Deborah Robson's class was that you can find good fibers in a heap of an awful looking mess if you know how to do it. So, despite that the day I thought would be a good day to clear up in the mess started with a morning when I kept hurting my head on all sorts of things like lamps, shelves, and an open door, it ended up as a good day.

Long, soft and nice fibers once you get them sorted. Upper row: lock, combed tops, rolags, scoured fiber. Below combing in progress, and the dog comb I first tried 


I first tested combing the tips off with a dog comb and then card what was left. That was not a good idea. Carding the long fibers only teared them to pieces and didn't take out the VM or the neps. I carded two awkward mini rolags. You can see them in the middle of the upper row in the photo above.

I then tried my one row Louet mini combs, and that worked well. I got a few mini tops of lovely fiber, and a lot of waste which I threw away.


Spinning wheel: Louet Victoria
Ratio: 1:6
WPI on my wpi-tool: 24 (average)

I spun the carded rolags with a semi-woolen draw (or against twist, I'm not sure what to call it). I got a lumpy, soft yarn that would be nice in a hat if there was enough of it.

I spun the combed tops in the same way, and in this case I think the draft could be called "against twist". I used a low ratio for low twist with a medium take up to trap as much air as possible in the yarn. The tops were very easy and nice to spin. I plied with the same loose twist and got a yarn that looked very soft before washing.

After washing the yarn was more open and lofty. The ply is a bit uneven, have to work on that in the future. The carded sample was lumpy and uneven, which was to expect.
                                     Carded sample to the left, combed to the right

Yarn: the combed prep
Needles: 3.5 mm
21 stitches, 24 rows

The softness of the yarn takes away some stitch definition in relief patterns in the 2-ply yarn. For a garment like a sweater I would spin 3-ply and not so lofty.

The color of the sample yarn varies, which is natural as I combed small amounts of fiber on mini combs. In a sweater this would make a lovely slightly variegated effect.


A lovely fiber! 

Read more
Wikipedia Manx Loaghtan
Manx Loaghtan Breeders' Group. This site is quite informative.
Rare Breeds Survival Trust
British Sheep & Wool. British Wool Marketing Board, 2010
M. L. Ryder, Sheep & Man. Duckworth, 2007
Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, The Fleece & Fiber Source Book. Storey Publishing, to be released in May 2011
Nola & Jane Fournier, In Sheep's Clothing. Interweave, 1995

söndag 23 januari 2011

Save the Sheep and Renee's Dog

Some of my readers may know Renee Darley and her shop Ullaffären - The Wool Business. Renee is in great need of help because of things she's not responsible for. You can read the details in her Ravelry group: Longbacken discussions: Dilemma. Please read and decide if you want to help. I can recommend her fibers, I have a lot of it in my stash and all is high quality.

lördag 22 januari 2011

Nålbindning - Nalbinding - Neulakinnas

Om ni tycker om nålbindning och medeltida dräkter borde ni titta på den här bloggen ibland: Hibernaatiopesäke
Bloggen är på finska och engelska, och fotona är utmärkta.

If you like nalbinding (needle binding) and medieval dresses you should look at this blog every now and then: Hibernaatiopesäke. The blog is in Finnish and English, and the photos are very good.

Jos pidätte neulakinnastekniikasta ja keskiajan vaatteista katsokaa ihmeessä tätä blogia aina välillä: Hibernaatiopesäke. Osa teistä varmaan lukevatkin jo sitä.

fredag 21 januari 2011

North Ronaldsay. My Fiber Studies 4

I take part in the SpinDoctor Wool Breed Challenge on Ravelry. My blog posts are tagged "SpinDoctor". The Challenge ends June 30th 2011.

The Sheep

These sheep have lived on North Ronaldsay for very long. They "... are closely related genetically to the prehistoric Palustris" Elizabeth Lovick writes in her informative booklet "A North Ronaldsay Yarn". She continues: "They also have many similarities with the Asian Arkhan sheep in Kazakhstan" and "... to be very similar indeed to the bones of sheep found in the stone age village of Skara Brae on Mainland (about 3 thousand BC) and virtually identical to the remains of iron age sheep found throughout Orkney". The sheep belongs to the North Atlantic short tailed group together with Hebridean, Soay, Shetland, Icelandic and Villsau. It is believed to be the ancestor of Shetland sheep. In 1832 the sheep were closed out from the better lands on the island and forced to live on the shores and live on seaweed for greater part of the year. A sudden change of the diet to normal grazing can kill them (copper poisoning).

The North Ronaldsay is a small and fine boned sheep. The rams are horned, the ewes can be horned, polled or scurred. The meat is delicious.

The Wool

North Ronaldsay is a dual coated sheep. The undercoat is "fine as cashmere" says Liz Lovick, and protects the sheep from cold. The outer coat (guard hair) is long and much coarser and leads water out from the wool helping to keep the sheep dry. The lock is triangular as the undercoat fills up in the cut end making it wider.
Scoured lock from Deborah Robson's class in Stirling 2010. Deb's sample card, my notes

The variety of color includes white, grey, black, brown in different shades. The staple length is 4-at least 17 cm. Some written sources says as short as 8 cm as the longest, but as you can see this is not true. The crimp is open in the outer coat, fine in the under coat. The hand is soft to harsh depending on the amount of outer coat and the age of the sheep.

Earlier the sheep where rooed (wool pulled off) when the sheep shed naturally, nowadays they are sheared.

The wool is used for garments like sweaters, hats, mittens. The fleece can be dehaired for a soft yarn. The outer coat can be used in stronger but more harsh yarns.

My Experience

I spun North Ronaldsay for the first time in August 2010 in Stirling, Scotland, in Deb Robson's class on rare wools. We spun from the locks, or, if we had time we combed, flicked or carded them first.

In the autumn I spun the rest of what I could take with me from that class and documented it. I combed the locks with one row Louet mini combs, threw away the rather matted short undercoat and spindle spun the top I could draft out from the comb. This yarn I will use in a hat.
                          Combed spindle spun North Ronaldsay

While in Scotland I bought white, gray and dark brown sliver from Scottish Fibres. The dark brown could be black, I don't know how black North Ronaldsay can be considering they most probably have tips bleached to brown that obscure the pure black. I took 20 grams each from these slivers for this fiber study. The slivers are carded from whole fleeces, so there is every kind of fibers in them: short soft undercoat, longer coarser outercoat and kemp. The slivers drifted apart very easily and were a bit difficult to spin even, but I wanted even yarns I could use in Fair Isle knit, so I decided to try anyway as part of the SpinDoctor's Wool Breed Challenge.

When you spin fibers from a double coated fleece you have to be aware that you are not getting a smooth merino type of yarn. But you can get a very nice yarn suitable for the weather in a cold, wet coastal area. That's what the sheep have grown their fleece for, and that is what you can use it for yourself.

I also took this as a challenge to spin three similar yarns from different fibers to get suitable yarn for a knitted Fair Isle swatch.
                                   Dark brown, grey and white sliver

Options for all three samples

Spinning wheel: Louet Victoria, standard flyer, ratio 1:8.5
WPI in singles on my wpi-tool: 28 (average).
Drafting: double semi-woolen draft. First I let in a little twist by starting what would be a long draw if I continued drafting, but I stopped when there was enough twist to hold the sliver together. Then I followed up with proper drafting and smoothing of the yarn. I wanted to trap the short fibers in the yarn for a loft, warm yarn, but still keep it fine as I also want to wear the hat or mittens. I don't like thick knitted garments because they are too warm for me.
Knitted swatch: 31 stitches, 24 rows, needles 2.5 mm. Pattern from Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting, p. 57.

As all three samples where spun, plied and washed the same way. I give details only for the first sample.

1st sample: The white sliver. There was much kemp and very short fibers from the undercoat among the longer ones from the outer coat as you can see in the first photo:

             First part of the double woolen draft: I have let a bit of twist enter the drafting zone
Second part of the double draft: I have drafted to the fineness I want and let the definitive twist into the yarn.

There is much twist in my yarn. I had to decide on lower twist for a more lofty yarn or high twist for strength and less pilling. I chose the latter.

I combed a few cm of the sliver to see what happens. Short fibers and some kemp were left on the combs after I had drafted out the top. The yarn was spun with short forward draw and then I let it ply back. The yarn is smoother and looks better, but it is also coarser.
This is what was left on the combs after I combed a few cm of the sliver: short undercoat, some long outercoat and kemp

I took the waste from the combs, added a few drops of water and just rubbed it between my fingers, and it felted. I made a small flower of it. I don't know how good felt you could get from the undercoat treated in such a rough way, first carded in a mill and then combed with hand combs,  but at least you could blend it with something else to get good felt. I didn't try needle felting, but of course you could use the soft undercoat for that technique also. On North Ronaldsay the mill owner Jane Donnelly has a felting press she has used for different kinds of felt.

The plied and washed white sample weighed 15 grams and was 83 meters long.

2nd sample: The gray sliver. There was very little kemp in this sliver, and it felt softer than the white one. But when I spun I could see the outercoat and kemp start rising from the yarn on the bobbin. The fibers were stiff and didn't want to twist into the yarn.

The plied and washed gray sample weighed 15 grams and was 93 meters long.

3rd sample: The brown sliver. This was the easiest to spin of the three slivers. It felt coarser, and I think there was a greater amount of outercoat in it. It was shorter than the orther yarns evn if I measured the same WPI ehile spinning.

The plied and washed brown sample weighed 15 grams and was 72 meters long.

                     Big sample skeins 2-ply from sliver, small skeins 3-ply navajo

This is a fiber and yarn with character. The yarn was a joy to knit.

For a sweater I would spin thicker, or a 3-ply. This thin 2-ply yarn would be very good in mittens or a hat. It could also be used in a sweater, but then I would knit on a machine. Handknitting would take forever! But as you can see in the swatch I really would need to work on the diameter control. Even in this small swatch the white yarn is bulging out to the sides because it is thicker than the others.

Read more
There is much information on North Ronaldsay on internet. Here is some:
Northern Lace Fiber Adventure 2010
Sheep Isle, North Ronaldsay
Rare Breeds Survival Trust
Wikipedia North Ronaldsay
Use a search engine to find the contact details for the mill on North Ronaldsay: A Yarn from North Ronaldsay Ltd
Elizabeth Lovick, A North Ronaldsay Yarn. The Sheep, Their Yarn and Their Island, s.a. Northern Lace
Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook. Storey Publishing, to be released May 2011
M.L. Ryder, Sheep and Man. Duckworth, 2007
Nola and Jane Fournier, In Sheep's Clothing, Interweave Press, 1995
British Sheep & Wool. British Wool Marketing Board, 2010
Wild Fibers Magazine, 2004

torsdag 20 januari 2011

Tvätt och ulltvätt och städning - Washing and Scouring and Cleaning

                      Ute ser det ut som ett vykort - Outdoors it looks like a postcard
Men inomhus är det kaos.

But indoors it's chaos.
Jag fick ett stort paket från The Spinning Loft. 18 ullprover som ska tvättas och också torka inomhus.

I got a big package from The Spinning Loft. 18 wool samples to scour and dry indoors.

Det här är vacker brunsvart Wensleydale i min röda ulltvättbunke. Och undertill finsk lantras som ser väldigt trevlig ut, den ska ännu tvättas.

This is beautiful brown-black Wensleydale in my red wool scouring bowl. And beneath a nice looking Finn still to be scoured.

Det är inte ulltvätten som är kaoset, det är det här:

It's not the scouring of the wool that makes the chaos, it's this:

Storstädning efter att en mus (jo en mus, inte en sork) härjat i skåpen. Jag undrar hur många fruktknivar, burköppnare, tandade små knivar ett hushåll på två personer egentligen behöver? För att inte tala om alla andra saker jag inte visste vi ägde. Det tar tre dagar att städa efter den lilla musen. Och den är söt, jag har sett den. Den går inte i fällorna.

Thorough cleaning because a mouse (yes a mouse, not a vole) has been raiding the cupboards. I wonder how many fruit knives, can openers, jagged small knives a household of two people really needs? Not to talk of all the other things I didn't know we own. It takes me three days to clean after the little mouse. And it's cute, I have seen it. It doesn't go into traps.

Mellan tvätt- och städvarven torkar härlig ull. Underbara spinndagar att vänta!

While I'm scouring and cleaning the already washed nice wool is drying. Wonderful days of spinning in sight!

tisdag 18 januari 2011

Skimoslända - Skimo Spindle

                     Det var en grå dag ute i går. Inga andra färger än vitt och grått.
                It was a grey day outdoors yesterday. No other colors than white and grey.
På kvällen kom min man hem med ett litet paket från Frankrike.
In the evening my husband came home with a small parcel from France.

Det var en stödd slända som Sabrina gjort. Den är underbar! Helt rätt tyngd, fint balanserad (metallspetsen är verkligen bra), och min alldeles egna sten turkosen som trissa. Skaftet är tulipwood. Jag blev betagen av denna lilla vackra slända. Sabrina hade lagt med fibrer i färger som är helt mina egna. Och titta på den ljuva lilla skålen hon också skickade! Tack Sabrina!

Med den här sländan kan jag spinna kamgarn genom att låta den rotera stödd mot handflatan medan jag drar korta drag. Det kan jag inte göra med någon annan av mina stödda sländor. Skaftet har rätt längd.

It was a supported spindle made by Sabrina. It's wonderful! Exactly the right weight, very good balanced (the metal tip is very good), and the whorl is my own stone the turquoise. The shaft is tulipwood. I was completely charmed by this small beautiful spindle. Sabrina had added fibers in colors that are all mine. And look at the lovely little bowl she also sent me! Thank you Sabrina!

With this spindle I can spin worsted by letting the spindle rotate against my palm while I draft short draws. I can't do that with any other of my supported spindles. The shaft is of perfect length.

På Ravelry hittar du Sabrina som Skimo.

On Ravelry you find Sabrina as Skimo.

tisdag 11 januari 2011

Cotswold. My Fiber Studies 3

                         Cotswold ram on the cover of Beautiful Sheep Journal

I take part in the SpinDoctor Wool Breed Challenge on Ravelry. My blog posts are tagged "SpinDoctor". The Challenge ends June 30th 2011.

The Sheep

Cotswold is a large longwool sheep with a long history. It was established in the 13th century in UK and the modern form was being developed about 1780 to 1820, and was imported to the USA about that time. The sheep has dark skin on the nose and a big forelock. It is polled (no horns). It is now considered a minority sheep on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust list, and as threatened on the American  Livestock Breeds Conservancy list. In the Cotswolds in UK it is still a predominant breed. It's a dual purpose breed for meat and wool.

The Wool

The fleece is heavy, 4-7 kg, with a staple length of 15-25 cm The micron range goes from 35-38 (in "British Sheep & Wool") and 38-48 (American Livestock Breeds Conservancy). The wool is used in carpets, furnishing, and various textile crafts. It's quite common among handspinners, called "the poor man's mohair" and "the golden fleece" among other nicknames. The lock structure is open and wavy. The wool is silky, lustrous and strong and takes dyes well. The finer grades can be used in garments.

My experience

I'm not used to spinning wool as long as this. I tried it for a few minutes in my Rare Wools class for Deborah Robson in Stirling, Scotland, in August 2010. I got a few locks with me from that class, and spun them for this fiber study. I combed them on Louet one row mini combs, and that was a pleasure! The wool felt soft, and it has great luster, but it's not the kind of wool I would not use it next to skin. Some of the locks are pure white, some yellowish. I didn't take a photo of the locks, but as I remember it they where of different lengths and micron range, so they where from different parts of the body.

OK. Louet Victoria, standard flyer and bobbin. Here we go.

Samples 1-3 ratio 1:6 (biggest whorl). Singles z-twist
1st sample. Short forward draw feels awkward.
2nd sample. Short backward draw feels better, but I'm not quite comfortable yet.
3rd sample. From the fold. This works best until now.

Samples 4-6 ratio 1:8:5 (middle whorl). Singles z-twist, 2-ply s-twist.
4th sample. This time I predrafted the top, and let the flyer pull the yarn without helping very much with drafting. I plied in S for a 2-ply yarn. This was the best yarn so far, and the easiest to spin.

5th sample. I dyed the last four combed locks with acid dyes and spun them in the same way as the 4th sample. I spun a short thread in the same way as the 4th sample and let it fold back into a 2-ply after first threading a warp on a piece of cardboard. I took a third singles and sew it together with the 2-ply into the weft. It would be interesting to weave decorative textiles for a window or wall with Cotswold yarn. The longest locks could be used as effects also.

6th sample. I spun one thread the same way as sample 4 and then plied it with a green longwool/Tencel thread I found in my stash. I aimed for at slightly structured yarn I could use in a small weft, but for now it stays in my sample collection.

More techniques to try when I get more fiber: open the locks into fluff and spin from that with different drafting techniques such as longdraw. Boucle. Artyarns.

After washing the white skeins I can see that the yellow color is still there in some of them. I used Ecover Sensitive laundry detergent which usually takes away anything, but not this time. Look out for stained fleece, then, if you are going to buy some. Or, you can dye it, as I did with the last sample.


If I would start weaving again, I would sample with different directions of twist to see what that would do to a cloth. Say z-spun for the warp and z-spun for the weft, and s-spun for the warp and s-spun for the weft, and s-spun for the warp and z-spun for the weft etc. Uneven art yarns with slubs or knots would be interesting to weave. Cotswold boucle. Cotswold has many dimensions. One is that it will halo as the long fibers start coming up from the yarn when you use it.

My appetite has grown :)
                                         Combed lock, samples 1, 2, 3, 4
                                           Samples 6 and 5

Read more:
InternetThe Cotswold Sheep SocietyRare Breeds Survival Trust , American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
British Sheep & Wool. British Wool Marketing Board, 2010
Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, The Fleece and Fiber Source Book. Storey Publishing, to be released in May 2011
Nola & Jane Fournier, In Sheep's Clothing. Interweave Press, 2003
Clara Parkes, The Knitter's Book of Wool, 2009
M.L. Ryder, Sheep and Man. Duckworth, 2007
Beautiful SheepJournal. Ivy Press, 2010
Several spinning groups on Ravelry have discussed Cotswold

onsdag 5 januari 2011

Brown Shetland. My Fiber Studies 2

Tess the border collie is keeping the sheep in order on a croft in Shetland. At least she's trying, we, the tourists, didn't give her much chance. She was more interested in playing with things she found on the ground because she had an audience :)

I take part in the SpinDoctor Wool Breed Challenge on Ravelry. My blog posts are tagged "SpinDoctor". The Challenge ends June 30th 2011.

Most Shetland sheep are white, but there are also colored sheep in grey to black and light brown to dark brown and moorit. The sheep belongs to the Northern European short tailed group, and it'd dual coated, i.e. it has a short soft undercoat and a longer outercoat. The white Shetland has recovered after being near to disappear, but the colored are threatened. It's getting more and more difficult to buy good colored fleece.

The quality of Shetland fleece is graded into five grades from finest to damaged. You can read more in an article written by Elizabeth Lovick in the magazine YarnMaker, October 2010. The sheep is dual coated, but the "improved" Shetland has less differencies between undercoat and outercoat than the more primitive individuals. Colored Shetland usually has a very distinct double coat.

Colored Shetland is an adventure! You can work in so many ways with a colored fleece. There are no two fleeces exactly the same. The color and quality variation is vast. Today I show a few basic ways to work with a colored fleece except one: I did not cut off the bleached tips as I had so little fibers. If you want a deep brown even color and the wool is long enough, you cut off the tips. Colored Shetland is used in Hap shawls, Fair Isle and Aran knits.

I had only about 35 grams of brown 1st grade Shetland wool, which I grabbed from a fleece given by Oliver Henry to people take with them at Spin Night in Stirling, Scotland, in August 2010. Now I deeply  regret I didn't take the whole fleece, but at that time I couldn't see how I would get it home to Finland. I could have mailed it, silly me! At home I gently scoured the handful I had. I didn't want to wash out all of the lanolin, because that would be needed in my worsted spinning sample.

Oliver Henry is the world's greatest authority on Shetland wool. He is the director of Shetland Woolbrokers/Jamieson and Smith in Lerwick, Shetland. He has been working with wool for 50 years. Here he shows a fleece in the wool shed, where the work with the fleeces is intense i August 2010:
I had some scoured brown Finn Wool for comparison. Shetland and Finnsheep are both North European short tailed breeds. Their wool can be very similar, as you can see in the photo below. Finnsheep to the left, Shetland to the right. I think the wool in both samples come from young animals, maybe lambs. The Shetland has been shorn in August, the Finn in the autumn.

The lock structure is triangular, which is typical to double coated fleece. The undercoat fills up close to the skin, and keeps the sheep warm in rough weather. The outer coat leads the water away, and also helps to keep the fleece open so it won't felt on the sheep. In the Finn to the left you see a more open crimp than in the Shetland to the right. The crimp in this Shetland lock is even, but in the Finn fleece there were locks with similar crimp. The staple length of my Shetland was 6-10 cm, in the lock below about 6 cm.

OK, let's leave the Finn and concentrate on Shetland:

It's difficult to describe the hand of 1st grade Shetland. I think I can feel the structure of the fiber, but that sounds ridiculous as the fiber is so fine: 12-20 microns in the undercoat, 30-40 in the outercoat, but that's an average that does not count for the fine 1st grade outercoat. Anyway, you have to feel it to understand.

First preparation: separating the double coat by combing. I combed each lock separately with a tight dog comb. This is the way to prepare Shetland 1st grade wool for spinning the super fine yarn used in Shetland lace shawls. You don't want the undercoat in the yarn for the finest shawls. I learned to comb from master spinner Margaret Peterson in Shetland in August 2010. You take a firm grip of the lock and start combing from one end, then turn it over and comb the other end. I find it easier to start with the cut end, which I comb until there is no underwool left. OT: I need a new comb, do you know where I can buy one? This is a flee i.e. fleece...;) dog comb.
In the picture below you can see a lock that is rather typical to primitive sheep breeds: the sheep has shed some of it's wool at some point, and new has started growing. The breaking point is about one third from the cut end. These short, shed fibers can be carded into a woolen yarn. To the left the combed fibers, in the middle the lock, to the right what's combed off. I store the combed fibers with all tip ends pointing in the same direction.

As I had very little of the brown Shetland, I combed only about ten locks to get a mini sample skein. I spun them from the cut end on a 16 grams Michael Williams spindle. I ordered the spindle from Mike on Elizabeth Lovick's recommendation, and I have not regretted that I bought it. It's perfect for spinning Shetland lace yarn, and as Mike has made many spindles for that purpose you can rely on getting a good one. This yarn need much twist and careful drafting, which requires a spindle that spins fast and long. The yarn has to take the stress of extreme blocking of the shawl. It's often used as a singles. I plied the tiny sample on the same spindle, but I would use a heavier spindle or a wheel for plying a bigger amount of yarn. If you have a wheel suitable for this kind of yarn feel free to use it. In Shetland they have small, sturdy wheels with big ratios. Mary Kay is one of the skillful lace knitters of the island, here she is with her wheel in Jamieson & Smith's shop in Lerwick:

The best way to spin the super thin Shetland worsted lace yarn is in the grease. The fleece has very little lanolin, and the sheep are often quite clean. They graze in the vast Shetland mores and they are frequently washed by rain. As you can see from the combing picture above, most of the vegetable matter falls out in the preparation.

Second preparation: carding the undercoat. I carded the undercoat and other short fibers I combed out from the longer fibers and spun them on my Russian supported spindle from IST Crafts. Some of the bleached tips came out in the combing, and I added them to this yarn. I navajo plied it into a few meters of 3-ply just to show what kind of yarn you can spin from "waste". With larger amounts of waste you can spin a nice yarn with neps and an uneven structure. The yarn is very soft, quite comparable to cashmere, so feel free to use it for babies if the mother likes to do her laundry by hand...

Third preparation: carding undercoat and outercoat together. I wanted to have one woolen Shetland yarn with both undercoat and outercoat. I opened the locks by teasing. This time I plucked out weak tips and double cuts. I used Louet's fine carders, on which I can card a rolag very suitable for long draw. I spun with English long draw on Louet Victoria, standard flyer and bobbin, ratio 1:13.

Here you can see all three yarns together. The worsted small skein feels very silky, and it has quite a good luster. There is 13 meters in the skein which weighs less than 1 gram. The woolen mini skein with about 2 meters of yarn was spun from combing waste is soft with less luster and would probably felt good. The woolen double coat skein is very soft, 166 meters, 24 grams.

Find out more about Shetland wool:
Internet: there is much knowledge about Shetland sheep, I suggest you search internet, but here is one link: Shetland sheep on Wikipedia
Literature: M.L. Ryder, Sheep and Man. Clara Parkes, The Knitter's Book of Wool. Nola and Jane Fournier, In Sheep's Clothing. Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, The Fleece & Fiber Source Book (to be released in May 2011). The magazines Spin Off and YarnMaker.
Spinning instruction: Watch out for Liz Lovick's CD on spinning Shetland, it's coming in the spring 2011!
Shetland textiles: Northern Lace Liz Lovick Shetland Museum Unst Heritage Centre Heirloom Knitting
Spindles shown here: Michael Williams IST Crafts

tisdag 4 januari 2011

Hebridean. My Fiber Studies 1

                Louet Victoria standard flyer and bobbin, roving, book British Sheep & Wool

I take part in the SpinDoctor Wool Breeds Challenge on Ravelry. My blog posts are tagged "SpinDoctor". The Challenge ends June 30th 2011.

The first sheep breed in my fiber studies is the Hebridean. I found 100 grams of roving in New Lanark Mill in Scotland in August 2010. The same week I took a class for Deborah Robson on Rare Wools at UK KnitCamp, where she talked a bit about Hebridean as a breed that has been rare but recovered and now prospers.

Hebridean sheep have lived on the Hebridean Islands off the Scottish west coast since the 9th century. Small, hardy sheep like these are believed to have been brought by Vikings. It belongs to the North European short tailed sheep group. Both rams and ewes have two to four horns. In the 1970s the breed was almost extinct. It was rescued thanks to grazing programs for environmental reasons. These sheep manage with a minimum of care, they are healthy and feral. They are also quite decorative. The breed has also been known under the name "St Kilda" even if it's not from that archipelago.

The sheep is usually black, with a dense, weatherproof fleece. Sometimes it gets grey with age, and the tips become bleached to brown in the sun. The wool is soft to harsh, with a staple length of 5-15 cm. It can be used in various textiles, but is not suitable for garments worn next to the skin. The micron count is a +35.

I drew out a small amount of fiber from my roving and found fibers from 1-12 cm long. The wool had been very thoroughly carded in the mill, far too rough to my likeness, but I can imagine this kind of fleece is difficult to handle in a mill. It would be interesting to work with from fleece, so I'm going to search for some later. This is what I had (roving split lengthwise in thirds):
I spun a semi woolen draft, or against twist, can't really describe it, but it's what I call my "working draft", good for many fibers carded into rovings or rolags. The roving was not easy to spin due to the great differences in fiber length. Average thickness of my singles:

I spun 320 meters 2-ply yarn, and 14 meters navajo 3-ply from the 100 grams of roving. The finished yarn is surprisingly soft and has a nice structure. It would be perfect for outer wear. It's clearly a fiber to like!
I would be warm in a sweater on a day like this, when I took the photo of the finished yarn. There was a partial sun eclipse, and the sun colored the yarn slightly with a yellow tone that looked very pretty. It was -17 C (1.4 F) and little snow in the air.

The Official Hebridean Sheep Society

M. L. Ryder, Sheep and Man.Duckworth, 2007
British Sheep & Wool. British Wool Marketin Board, 2010
Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, The Fleece and Fiber Source Book. Storey Publishing, to be released May 2011
Deborah Robson, UK KnitCamp, Stirling 2010