Getting to Know Ewe: Columbia Sheep and Their Wool

Are you ready for the new issue of Spin Off? I wrote a new article for the Summer 2017 issue about my first fiber love—Columbia sheep. It’s always a pleasure to write about sheep breeds that I enjoy using, especially when it’s a breed that is less commonly used by handspinners.

My family kept a flock of Columbia sheep while I was growing up in Indiana, and I’ve always had a soft spot for their friendly faces and copious fleeces. An American breed originally developed for Western rangeland, Columbias have easily adapted to many different landscapes.

Once I started writing my article about the history of Columbias and their versatile fiber, I was off to sniff out some fleeces. I ordered fleeces from Montana, small-batch combed top from Washington, and dyed combed top from Kansas.

When I returned home from a fabulous weekend teaching for the Peachtree Handspinners Guild in Atlanta last August, a giant box was waiting by my front door. My spinner’s radar detected wool fumes, and I excitedly opened the box.

Glorious locks from the Langhus flock in Montana.

Glorious locks from the Langhus flock in Montana.

My plan was to design some spinner’s socks for Spin Off. I often wish I had some beautiful, woolly socks to keep in my spinning bag. I began washing, combing, and spinning samples to make sure my plan was on the right track: 4-ply cabled yarns in cushy, snow-white Columbia.

Spinner’s socks on the needles. The pattern is easy to memorize and fun to knit.

Spinner’s socks on the needles. The pattern is easy to memorize and fun to knit.

I’m eager and anxious to see the new Spin Off in my mailbox—I hope you are, too!

—Kate

Featured Image: From whence woolly words wander forth… Photos by Kate Larson


Learn about Columbia sheep and other breeds!

 

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