A Wensleydale day, supplemented by Shetland and seasoned with Lincoln

posted in: Spinning, Wools, rare breed | 2

I spent a chunk of yesterday morning at the coffee shop writing a post that was lost into the land of loose electrons just about the time I finished it. Then I spent the evening discovering that the sock I was knitting was a few stitches too small and ripped it out. For the second time. It was one of those days.

It was a good post, if I do say so myself. There was lots of cool stuff in it, including a whole lot of links.

Here is a piece of the information that was in the earlier version of the post. The complicated stuff will need to be revisited after I've rested.

I haven't decided what I'm doing about the sock yet.

Wensleydale

Part of what that post was about is that more of The Project can be revealed now. The bigger details will have to wait. Here's a portion.

I spent some of the weekend in the cabin spinning samples of rare-breed wools.

I started with the sample just below. That mix of near-white and light gray in with the black was irresistibly interesting and I didn't want to homogenize the fiber and turn the end result into a not-quite-black (a valid choice under some circumstances, but I'm playing here and can do whatever I want). So I combed with one quick pair of passes and came up with a preparation that was inevitably going to have texture as well as color variations when it was spun up.

Wensleydale1_2519

When I spun it, I left it as a singles, again because I wanted to make the most of the unusual combination that I started with. The skeinlet is at the far left in the photo at the bottom of this post. Knitted, it would probably work up at 4/inch (16/10cm), but considering the breed and the weight I more easily see it in a weft-faced weave, possibly a tapestry or a bag or a rug.

My second Wensleydale sample was white, and I put it through two passes on the combs (two-row Vikings are my favorites right now) and spun a smooth two-ply (second from left in bottom photo). I went for "thick" because with this fiber length I can do that and still get a structurally sound yarn. The yarn is about worsted weight.

Wensleydale is a luster wool, so of course we expect a luminous quality, but the shine on this one is over the top. It came out with a slightly warm shade to the white—a little creamy, or, plied, like a string of gorgeous pearls.

Wensleydale2_2522

For the third Wensleydale sample, I had a lovely all-black fleece. I combed it for a smooth preparation and spun about a sportweight two-ply (third from the left in the photo).

Wensleydale3_2527

Although Wensleydales are strong wools (a term I'm coming to prefer over "coarse," because nothing this pretty should be called "coarse"), and according to micron count should not be used for next-to-the-skin clothing, those long fibers with their smooth scale patterns sometimes can, in my opinion, be used for garments that do spend time on bare skin, if they're fleeces on the fine end of their range and are spun to keep the fibers running parallel and minimize any sticking-out (potentially prickly) ends.

I'd like to keep going and actually make things from these wools, but for reasons that will be revealed soon (and would have been revealed today if the computer had cooperated), I'm moving right along. . . . Also it will become apparent later why all of the yarns I'm spinning these days are singles or two-plies. . . .

Three Wensleydales, two Shetlands, and a bit of Lincoln

Here are the weekend's skeinlets. A lot of non-spinning work also got accomplished.

Skeins_2552

From the left:

  • the dark-and-lighter Wensleydale, spun for texture and to preserve color variation (singles)
  • the white Wensleydale, spun for its luminous qualities (two ply)
  • the black Wensleydale, spun for smoothness and crisp drape (two ply)
  • a white Shetland, spun into a two-ply about Aran-weight, nice and sturdy (two ply)
  • a different white Shetland, finer, spun into a two-ply somewhere closer to fingering than sportweight, very sweet (two ply)
  • a gray Lincoln lamb, spun into a textured yarn with the curls sticking out, just because I could do this while maintaining structural soundness . . . and because the curls here, like the color variation in the first Wensleydale, were so appealing (singles)

Topics for another day:

  • US as opposed to UK Wensleydales. A long, interesting, sometimes controversial story.
  • Selecting the right fibers for novelty yarns that won't fall apart, although a few comments on that now. . . .

All of these fleeces, including the Shetlands, were long enough to play with as low-twist, textured spinning, even though I chose to do that only on two of the samples. With a five-inch staple (all of these were in that vicinity), I can go to low twist, even in a bulky weight, and have ends sticking out in a scenic manner and still have my yarn hold together in use.

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Now I'm going to post this, in case it threatens to vanish like yesterday's post. I'm shifting to off-line composition and going to train myself to USE it.

There's something so reliable about yarn. Even after I lost the post, I could look at these yarns and smile.

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2 Responses

  1. The skeins look fabulous! I was a good girl and did not buy a fleece at Olds, although there were several I could have come home with.

    Did, however, buy some small bags of fleece that were used in the judging courses: an ounce of coloured English Leicester for my breed book, and five ounces (now probably 3.5 after washing) of some gorgeous dark brown Polwarth, which has only 2″ staples but amazing softness and crimp. I’m going to spin it up and ply the single with some of the fine Romney for socks. 🙂

  2. I too have had blog posts or emails disappear on me right at the end. Very frustrating! Thank you for this post on (mostly) long wools, which I adore. I look forward to more about US vs UK Wensleydales! Will you talk about the breeding process with seaman importation!? (mispelling used for censoring purposes..)

    Gorgeous yarns, btw. I agree, yarn is sometimes much more durable than cyberposts, too!

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