Spinning Lincoln wool in the sunshine

It's a crisp day in the Rocky Mountains. I'm tucked into a bright space warmed by sunshine. I've been spinning Lincoln, which is one of the English luster longwools. They're called lustrous because they're brilliantly shiny. Yesterday I spun singles. Today I began combining them into a two-ply strand.

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The three wraps of thicker, more matte, yarn on the right are part of the leader, or the length of yarn that stays on the bobbin as a starter. When the early morning sun came through the window at just the right angle, the contrast with the Lincoln was so dramatic that I stopped spinning and got out my camera.

The more Lincoln, the more the bobbin gleamed:

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Lincoln is listed as a rare breed of sheep by both the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (North America) and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (British Isles). The realization that Lincolns were among the endangered breeds was what initially pushed me into learning more about the conservation of livestock.

The wool is long-stapled: each Lincoln sheep grows a lot of fiber in the course of a year. These sheep are sometimes shorn twice annually to keep the lengths manageable.

For the yarn I've been spinning, I combed the locks on my two-row St. Blaise combs. Sometimes people complain that there's a lot of waste from combing. There can be, depending on the fleece you're using and your techniques. But here's the waste from my combing of this Lincoln sample:

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1 – A second cut.

2 – A bit of wool that didn't get completely clean (stuck together).

3 – Some short bits.

I could have salvaged 2 and 3, except that I'm spinning for a deadline. Most of the fiber in the batch ended up in the top that I pulled off the combs and spun into the bobbin shown above. Yet it's true that a fair amount was left in the tines, too short or tangled to be included in the top. I set those clumps aside each time I had pulled a length of top. When I was done preparing the top but before I set about spinning it, I picked the "leftovers" well to loosen any jumbled bits, and then I turned them into a small randomly textured skein, shown below with some classic Lincoln locks: shiny, gently waving, strong, and long (these are 6 to 7 inches/15 to 18cm).

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Lincoln comes in a magical array of grays, too, but that's a story for another day, one without a pressing deadline.

Deadline or not, though, spinning Lincoln transforms ordinary moments into bright ones.

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10 Responses

  1. Thanks. I don’t know why, but this blog post cheered my day up!

  2. Ok, wait, that came out wrong. I meant to say that for some reason this blog post cheered me up on a particularly cruddy day. It just sort of hit the spot. Thank you for making my day better!

  3. Fun to see you at the Book Haven, to handle some fiber AND a great fiber book. (Mine. It’s all mine!) Safe travels back!

  4. Sarah Jane, I got the picture the first time, am sorry that you were having a cruddy day, and am glad to have brought some cheer into it!

    Sherrie, it was SUPER to see you and David at The Book Haven. That long shiny lock in the set of four wools I passed around was Lincoln. (Wonder who ended up with the wool?) Thanks for your good words on the book. I’m playing with fiber at Serendipity in Buena Vista this afternoon, then off to home again. POSSIBLY with a draft of the article I’m writing on Lincoln roughed out.

  5. Gorgeous – I love the sheen on the finished yarn.

    I’m off to spin some Zwartbles. Spring and a little bit rough. Perfect for our grey misty Scottish autumn!

  6. Y’know, I think I meant to say springy, not Spring.

    Spring is a LONG way off!

  7. Jeni, I read “spring” as “springy.” Yes, that sounds like Zwartbles! It’s bright sunshiny in Kansas, but chilly, too. Temps below freezing on my drive last night.

  8. mmmmm..love good Lincoln. Reminds me that I have a stash of silver grey Lincoln singles that I spun from a MS&W fleece a number of years ago. I’ve never come up with a project good enough for the yarn.

    BTW..I suspect you are following Kate at Needled now (Wovember?) Just in case you’re not…there’s a shout out to you in her most recent post:
    http://textisles.com/2011/11/10/wearing-deco/

  9. Thanks, Valerie, for clueing me in to that particular Wovember post. Yes, I'm following. And will be having a guest post as part of the Wovember project. You'll have read it: I'm on the road and can't write something immediately, so they have asked to use an existing post (and made excellent suggestions for which they had in mind).

  10. Oh, so beautiful.

    I emptied my bobbins this afternoon and have some white lincoln in my stash… so now you have me rethinking what to spin next. 🙂

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