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.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

YST Episode 62 two rare breed reviews

I had not done any rare breed reviews for awhile in the pod cast, so for this episode I review my study of the breeds Clun Forest and Black Welsh Mountain. Here's a link to the episode on the website. The clun forest sample that I had was small, but I was able to do some carded and some combed. Here's a photo of those yarns and a sample of the fiber:
The small sample on top was carded and spun on a lightweight drop spindle. The center skein was carded and spun on my roberta. The bottom skein was also spun on the roberta, this time from combed top. You can see the small sample of fiber left, short, soft and slightly crimpy. When I did my sample for Black Welsh Mountain fiber, I was involved in an internet group that was interested in studying the rare breed sheep and their fibers. One member of the group owns Desert Weyr farm and raises BWM sheep. She was very knowledgeable about the breed and had even included fiber samples in the exchange that were from the UK, the origin of the breed. The difference between the UK and the US sheep was distinct, and the farm's goal was to improve the quality of the US BWM sheep and their fiber, within the standards of the breed. The first distinction of the breed is of course the black color. The fiber is of moderate softness and crimp. The difference shown in her two samples was the length of the staple, the UK fiber was longer, and slightly softer. Although much of this can not be shown in a picture, I have photo of both samples that I spun into yarn. First the UK BWM sample:
Note the length on the fiber and compare it to the US sample of BWM
Both yarns are spun from carded fiber. I later learned that BWM can produce a better yarn when combed for top, because the combing helps remove some of the kemp that can cause the yarn to be less soft. The good news is that these samples are over five years old, and that since then there has been lots of progress in improving the fiber from the farm's sheep. I had the opportunity not only to see some of the new fiber from the farm, but talk to the breeder, Oogie for another podcast, episode 64.

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