Thursday, March 4, 2010
When Mohair first turned on me, I despaired of getting to knit with shiny, fuzzy yarns ever again. But I had underestimated wool. Sheep produce an amazing variety of fiber, a fact that is often lost in our age of mass production. It is still fairly rare that I will find a yarn that specifies the breed. If a breed is specified, the most common is Merino - a fiber known for its softness.
Becoming a spinner opened up a whole new world to me. Not only do different sheep breeds produce very different fibers, but what you get varies greatly depending on the flock, the sheep, and preparation of the fiber. In my spinning life I've mostly spun commercially prepared Bluefaced Leicester (BFL), a longwool that has greater sheen and durability than most Merino.
Last week I took my exploration of longwool to a new level. I tried out some Wensleydale (check out the pictures of sheep with ringlets). The majority of the fibers were about 7 inches long. That must be quite a wool coat when the sheep is still wearing it! I got 360 yards of singles from 4 oz. The final yarn is shiny and has a huge halo (since these photos I've started knitting with it and the halo just grows and grows). To the uninitiated, I imagine it looks just like Mohair... hurray!