Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Breed Notebook Notes, Rare Breeds

This post completes the samples that I have purchased of rare breed fibers. The first post with additional breeds can be found in the March 2004 archives.

Rare breed Status: Rare

The sample were long loose locks of washed wool. The color changed dramatically on the lock, going from deep black at the root, to white at the tip. Most of the lock was a lovely silver gray color. To me the fiber looked like Lincoln, but with a softer hand.

Combing: What I observed while combing was that the locks were splitting about halfway along the length of the lock. Half of the lock would end up on one comb, and the other half on the second comb. The fiber never would completely transfer from one comb to the other. I tugged on a lock and the same thing happened, so unfortunately this particular sample must have had a break in the fleece. And even though the combs went easily through the fiber, when it came time to pull top off the combs, it was difficult, and would only come off in what seemed like short stapled fiber.

Carding: This fiber is so much like Lincoln, I could not help but compare it to Lincoln as I was carding. Karakul seemed easier to card than Lincoln and the batt had more intregrity to it, unlike Lincoln that just seem to want to fall apart. Also, the karakul fiber blended better since all of the locks opened and were carded. When I carded lincoln, I had lots of little curls in the batt that did not open during carding.

Combed top: This spun into a nice smooth yarn, but I could not use any kind of drafting except a very short draw. The yarn was very slippery, and I found I was really pinching tight to keep the twist out of the fiber supply. The fiber felt rough on my fingers as I was spinning. My sample skein is only 5 yards at 11 WPI and is very twisted, showing that I still overspun the yarn.

Carded batts. Much nicer to spin, which just a regular drafting speed. The yarn is a lofty but scratchy 15 yard skein, at 11 WPI.

Leicester Longwool

This washed sample was a lovely light silver color with tan tips. The locks were long and very open with little crimp.

This must have been one of the first samples of the pack that I worked with, because it was all carded before I started taking notes. So I really did not get a combed sample, and now that I know about lock spinning, I would have tried to save some locks for that method too. As it was I only had carded batts to spin.

Carded batts: I am sure carding is not the best way to handle this type of fiber, although the batts were nicely carded and lofty. The yarn is a lovely tweed color, but the texture of the yarn makes it unusable for any type of clothing. My sample skein of 2 ply was 15 yards that measured 9 WPI. There was a very strong halo to the yarn accounting for alot of the scratchiness, I think.

I am sure there are better ways to process this fiber to give a wider range of uses. I think if it was lock spun, a wonderful crewel embrodery yarn could be created, there is plenty of strength in the yarn, and lock spinning or combed top would cut down on the fuzziness.

Rare Breed Status: Watch

This washed sample was made of long loose shiny locks in a white color with dirty tips. I decided to set some of the locks aside for lock spinning a sample.

Combing and Carding: The open locks combed easily and the top pulled off easily. In looking at the comb waste it seemed very nice fiber, just short. So I teased that open into little puffs to spin also. The locks were easier to card than I expected, the length was not a problem and the carded batts held together well.

Comb waste puffs: I have seen Icelandic fiber sold in 'clouds', these puffs of fibers reminded me of that. I found what looked open and easy to spin was not, the fibers were too mixed up to draft easily. I used a medium weight spindle to spin my sample, but was fighting all the time to keep the spindle turning, so that weight was not correct for this sample. My sample skein was 2 yards of a very fluffy loosely spun 2 ply at 8 WPI. I had occasional tips sticking out of the yarn, which were too deeply spun into the yarn to remove like a nep. It was a neat effect, but I could not get the effect consistently.

Combed top: I thought this was also hard to spin, due to the slipperiness of the fiber, I think. I used a heavier spindle for this and had better luck with that size as far as the spindle continuing to spin. I had trouble making joins while spinning due to the slickness of the fiber. My sample skein was very fuzzy for top and was 3 yards of 2 ply at 8 WPI. The luster of the fiber showed most in this skein.

Carded fiber: I spun this skein on my Roberta electric set with a high pull in tension and very slow speed. I used a very long drafting zone with almost no pinch behind that. It was pleasant spinning. My skein of 2 ply was just over 4 yards at 9 WPI.

Lock spinning: I had set four locks aside to try this method. One had a very matted butt area that I cut off. I combed each with a metal toothed dog comb, combing from the middle out on each end. The locks opened up nicely and most of the VM just fell out. I found while spinning I had to use a higher twist than the other samples, or the yarn just drifted apart while spinning. It was very easy to spin a thin single this way, although the yarn is so fuzzy, it deceives the eye as to it's thinness. My 2 ply skein spun this way was 4 yards at 18 WPI.

Rare breed Status: Recovering

Clun Forest

The sample I worked with was a washed off white fleece. It had a large amount of VM in the sample. The wool had a soft hand with a very springy feel to it.

This fleece was surprisingly easy to comb or card. It seemed perfectly suited for my small hand held combs, coming off in a very nice top. Since I had seen in other fibers that fleece that combs well often does not card well, that was what I expected. But I was very surprised to find that Clun Forest also carded up into lovely batts with my hand held cards.

Combed top: This was a delight to spin. It drafted easily into a long draft, and gave a nice smooth fine yarn. The only thing I observed was that it was such a smooth yarn, that it was difficult to make joins, when I started a new piece of top. I also noticed that this fiber needed a high twist, and that it really was unwilling to hold the twist. I especially saw this when I was plying, that the thicker areas in the singles were almost unspun. It was also interesting to observe that the yarn really expanded once there was no tension on it. I measured this sample of yarn as 15 WPI. It was a very generous, 25 yard sample.

Carded batts: I used more twist while spinning this. I tried two types of drafting, a moderate drafting zone gave a thicker yarn, with the neps often disappearing right into the yarn. An inchworm draft gave a much thinner yarn, but I had to stop and pull out the neps, which slowed down the spinning. The neps were not in the combed top, making it the better prep. This skein was 14 yards which measured 13 WPI, and was a very nubby looking yarn.


The sample was an off white washed wool, that looked and felt like little puffs of cotton. There was lots of crimp to the fiber. There were also lots of short pieces in the sample, second cuts, so unfortunately that affected the spinning and the yarn.

Combing and Carding. This was one of those fleeces that are like night and day between combs and cards. Combing was a wonderful surprise. The fiber would transfer all back to the original comb. The puff of fiber on the comb was barely an inch long, but what was surprising was that I could pull off long top from that little one inch puff. In fact it was so much fun, I ended up combing all of the fiber. I used the waste from the combs in hand cards for the carded batts. I tried a wide tooth carder first, but did not like the batt. My fine tooth cards gave a nicer batt although since it was waste from the combs, there was VM and neps in the batts.

Combed top: This was as wonderful to spin as it was to comb. I spun my skein on my Roberta electric into an evenly smooth, fine yarn. It was very soft and springy and measured 15 WPI.

Carded batts: It turned out to be foolish to try and use the waste from the combs in the batts. I did spin the fiber on a drop spindle but it turned out to be a very lumpy yarn, almost looked like a beginner's spinning! I did not like the skein at all, but do not feel it is the fiber's fault, just mine.


1 comment:

Annie said...

Fantastic! Your summaries for the breed samples are very helpful--you ought to consider sending in an abstract to Spin Off to see if they would profile your breed notebooks and summaries! Have fun at SOAR if I don't see you ahead of time!