Spinning Wool: Free Guide on Spinning Rare Wool
This issue is all about fiber. We’re looking at it closeup this time—really closeup—by examining crimp and diameter in detail to understand why fiber does what it does. Beth Smith has written a great article about spinning wool to the crimp—it’s a pretty straightforward concept and a wonderful place to start when you’re deciding how to spin your yarn. Deb Robson has written a really fascinating article about fiber diameter—she sent samples to a lab to look at the diameter of fiber from rare breeds of sheep (in addition to some that are not so rare). She walks us through the scans in a very logical way explaining what the findings mean for spinners in our free A Guide to Spinning Wool eBook.
Of course, every issue of Spin-Off is about fiber in one form or another. Nearly every issue contains a Fiber Basics article that looks very closely at one breed of wool or type of fiber. For this reason, it was so easy to pull together six articles about three spinning wool fibers—the ubiquitous Bluefaced Leicester, the hardy Wensleydale longwool, and the rare-breed Jacob. Three of the articles are all about the wool, and three are projects you can make from each wool fiber. Read about these wools, then try them out—each one spins up differently and has characteristics that make it ideally suited for different garments.
Border Leicester Wool Pattern
Border Leicester Christmas Stocking by Robin Russo
Today there are three distinct breeds of Leicester: the English, the Border, and the Blueface. Get to know the Border Leicester in this eBook. This fiber has a 6- to 12- inch staple. Although traditionally white, Border Leicesters have been bred for many wonderful natural colors ranging from silvery gray to a rich brown. Drumcarders are excellent for long wool. It is helpful to pick the fleece prior to feeding it into the drumcarder. The stocking knits up quickly and you could easily graph out a name or a few of your own designs to personalize the stocking.
Wensleydale Longwool Pattern
Wensleydale Scarf by Carol Huebscher Rhoades
Wensleydales are a dual-purpose British longwool breed originating in 1839 as a cross between a longwool ewe and a Dishley Leicester. Most of the Wensleydales are white-wooled but the breed registers also have a section for colored-wool sheep. A key feature is the lack of kemp, a desirable quality passed on to crossbreeds from the Wensleydale. The woolen-spun Wensleydale has more bounce than seemed possible from the lustrous locks, and that bulk combined with the stitch pattern makes a very cushy and soft enough fabric. I like scarves I can wrap twice around my neck, so this one is long.
American Jacob Wool Pattern
American Jacob Crocheted Slippers by Jeanette Larson
Many people like to link the origins of this rare breed of sheep to the Old Testament story of Jacob, who was given all the spotted sheep and goats from his father-in-law’s flock as payment for shepherding. Jacob fleece is really all-purpose and can be used for everything from hats to rugs. My current passion for using the fleece is crocheted slippers, and I love the variety of colors and patterns I can work up from only one fleece. Use this pattern and combine the colors from the fleece you have in any way to make a design that is uniquely yours. Begin by separating the colors before you wash the fleece. The variety of colors, length, and texture is almost endless.
We offer the free A Guide to Spinning Wool eBook, A Guide to Spinning Wool: Learn How to Spin Wool from Rare Sheep Breeds and Other Wool Fibers as a little thank you—thank you for all you do to make this spinning community so strong, vibrant, and continually growing. Thank you for your interest in a diversity of fiber from so many different sheep breeds—that interest keeps our spinning wheels humming.