Tag Archives: fleece

How to Select a Fleece: aa011501

Here are a few things that I look for when choosing a fleece for handspinning.

Clean

The fleece should be fairly clean and free of vegetable matter and other dirt and debris. It is possible to clean and card the debris, but it is a lot of work, so take this into consideration in your purchase and in the price that you pay.

Crimp

Different breeds of sheep have varying amounts of crimp or waviness in the fibre. The amount of crimp affects how the fibre will spin and what type of yarn is spun from it. There are 2 general categories of crimp. Some are noticeably wavy such as the Romney, and other breeds have a more distinctive and closer together crimp, such as the Merino or Cheviot breeds. These are more suitable for spinning for light, fluffy sweater weights.


Photo comparing a Cheviot fleece(Left)

and a Romney(Right)

Washed (Bottom)and Unwashed (Top)samples

Lustre

Different breeds of sheep have varying amounts of lustre or sheen in the wool. The lustre affects how the light is reflected and what the finished product will look like. Some wools are more suitable for blankets, and others are better used for finely spun, and woven fabrics.

Staple Length

If you are a beginner spinner, look for a staple length between 2 – 3 inches. It is more difficult to spin longer staple lengths of 4-5 inches.

Strength

When checking a fleece, check for breaks in the staple. Give a few of the locks a gentle tug. It should not break easily. If you find that the tip breaks, this fleece is probably not suitable for handspinning. The breaks will work their way loose in the finished product and cause pilling.

Washed Sample

Ask to see a washed sample of the fleece. You can easily wash a small sample of the locks, in the kitchen sink. Just add a few drops of dishwashing liquid and wash the sample in warm water. This will remove most of the lanolin and you will be able to get an idea of what the clean fleece will look like. The yellow colour (the lanolin) should wash out. If the washed sample is still very yellow, then it would be best to look for another fleece instead.

More about Handspinning

Handspinning Info
Handspun Yarns

Handspinning Books

The Whole Craft of Spinning: From the Raw Material to the Finished Yarn
Everything you need to know from set-up to finished product in order to create distinctive yarns for use in knitting, weaving, crocheting, needlepoint, embroidery, and macrame.
UK: Whole Craft of Spinning

In Sheep’s Clothing
A comprehensive look at the characteristics of wool of 100 breeds of sheep, this guide gives special attention to fleece characteristics, methods of preparation and spinning, and best end use.
UK: In Sheep’s Clothing

The Knitter’s Book of Wool: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding, Using, and Loving this Most Fabulous Fiber
The vast world of sheep and their wool into the language and context of knitting.
UK: Knitters Book of Wool

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Handspinning – Woollen and Worsted: aa091599

Several years ago, I had the great fortune to learn to spin. I took an intensive 12 week Handspinning course, taught by Judith MacKenzie, through the Kootenay School of the Arts. We learned how to sort a fleece, spin in the grease, and wash the fleece. Wool-combing, carding, blending roving to create heathered tones are all techniques that create different types of yarns. Spinning from quality top and luxury yarns, mohairs, angora, cashmere all added to the range of gourmet yarn creation. Judith now teaches workshops throughout the U.S. If you ever have an opportunity to take one of her classes, do so. I’m sure you will enjoy it.

One of the first things I learned is that wool yarns can be classified into 2 main categories, worsted and woollen. Worsted yarns are smooth, quite strong and long-wearing. They are used for woven clothing such as men’s suits. A true worsted yarn is spun from the longer fibers of the fleece. The fiber is usually combed with wool combs. This removes the shorter fibers and bits of dirt that may be in the fiber. Combing keeps the longer fibers in parallel order. The shorter fibers can be used to spin a woollen yarn. Commercially prepared top can also be used for worsted spinning, when you don’t want to do all the prep work yourself.
worsted handspinning

Worsted Spinning

To spin a worsted yarn, the spinning technique is quite controlled. If you are drafting with your right hand, pinch the thumb and forefinger of your right hand together to control the twist. Do not let the twist travel past the drafting triangle. If you are having trouble and the twist is traveling past your hand and making a nasty lump in your yarn, slow your wheel down a bit by loosening the tension on the bobbin slightly.

Shetland Top – Worsted Spinning

Woollen Spinning

Woollen spun yarns are loftier and softer. The fiber is shorter and is usually carded rather than combed. This results in fibers that go in different directions rather than parallel, incorporating more air into the yarn. Woollen yarns are more suitable for knitting, sweaters or fluffy blankets.

You Tube – Woolen Long Draw Spinning

More about Wool Yarns

  • Wool Processing
    The Sheep USA site describes the qualitative and quantitative evaluation of wool.
  • Coldharbour Mill
    The Coldharbour Mill has been spinning both wool and worsted yarns for nearly 200 years.
  • Turn Wolf Fur into Yarn
    Jerilyn Monroe tells how she turned her dog’s fur into yarn using a drop spindle (woollen spun, I think)
  • Spinners Guild Glossary
    An SCA glossary of spinning terms.

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Ashford Spinning Wheel

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Rare Vintage Made In Holland Louet S10 Wooden Spinning Wheel Clothing Spool

$299.99
End Date: Saturday Feb-22-2020 7:28:00 PST
Buy It Now for only: $299.99
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Louet Spinning Wheel S 50/51 Plus Stool And Skein Winder

$334.95
End Date: Thursday Feb-20-2020 10:33:47 PST
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Sheeps Wool Fibre: sheepswool

lamb-mudchute336.jpg, 7860 bytes

Wool
Not all wool is rough and itchy.

Woolen and Worsted
What is the difference between woolen and worsted yarns?

Apple Hollow Farm
Apple Hollow has a wide selection of looms, spinning wheels, yarns, fibres and weaving tales to amuse including Shetland, Highland and designer wool yarns .

Borgs Weaving Yarn
Sweden’s Borgs Vavgarner has a wide range of weaving yarns: linens, wools, cottons in 1000’s of colours.

Cornerstone Fibres
Angora blends, Romney wools, for the handspinner or have it spun for you.

Falkland Sheep & Wool
A truly delightful site, filled with lovely wools and lots of info about this unique region of the Falkland Islands.

Halcyon Yarn
Mail-order handknitting, machine knitting and weaving yarns. Spinning fibres, silks, wools: corriedale, coopworth, romney and domestic wool tops and rug-hooking kits are also available.

Hawks Mountain Ranch
Naturally coloured Icelandic sheep’s wool is their specialty.

Harrisville Yarn
Harrisville wool tweed and Shetland yarns. Available on cones for machine knitting or weaving and washed skeins for handknitting.
Louet
Louet has a good selection of wool yarns, suitable for blankets, woven cloth or delicate lace.

MacAusland’s Woollen Mills Ltd.
This family-owned spinning mill produces wool yarns in several weights: 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 ply.

Oriental Carpet Pile Yarns
Handspun long staple wool Ghazni from the northwest frontier highlands of Pakistan.

Peace Fleece
Peace Fleece is committed to helping historic enemies cooperate and prosper through trade. Peace Fleece offers yarns made from Russian/American, Israeli and Palestinian wools, suitable for knitting, weaving and rugmaking.

R & M Yarns
R & M has an ever changing selection of mill-end wool, cotton, rayon and acrylic yarns, suitable for machine knitting and weaving.

Spring Creek Organic Farm
Award winning organic Romney fleeces are raised with spinners, handweavers in fiber artists in mind.

Sugar Bush Hollow
Sugar Bush Hollow is a mother and daughter cottage industry that caters to all fiber enthusiasts. You can get Angora wool, Cormo fleece, and llama fiber or if you don’t spin yourself, they can spin it for you.

Thirteen Mile Lamb and Wool Company
At Thirteen Mile Lamb and Wool ranch, the sheep are raised in a predator-friendly atmosphere. Happy lambs growing happy wool.
Weavers Loft
Weavers Loft has a wide range of wools and spinning fibres: merino wools, angora, cashmere, silks, alpaca and other gourmet delights for the handspinner.

Webs Yarn Merchant
Webs is a mail-order supplier of specialty weaving yarns ranging from rayon chenille, to mohair and wool blends.

Wool Qualities
Why wool is good for you.

Yarn Barn
The Yarn Barn has lots of wool, rug yarns, cottons and linens in addition to their weaving equipment.

The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook: More Than 200 Fibers, from Animal to Spun Yarn
This covers almost every sheep breed in the world — from the longwool breeds of the United Kingdom to the Tasmanian merino, the Navajo churro, the northern European Faroese, and dozens and dozens more. It also includes goats, camelids (such as alpacas, llamas, and vicunas), bison, horses, musk oxen, rabbits, and even dogs.
UK: Fleece and Fiber Source Book

The Whole Craft of Spinning: From the Raw Material to the Finished Yarn
Everything you need to know from set-up to finished product in order to create distinctive yarns for use in knitting, weaving, crocheting, needlepoint, embroidery, and macrame.
UK: Whole Craft of Spinning

more Handspinning books..
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Ashford Spinning Wheel

$300.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Thursday Feb-20-2020 18:30:40 PST
Buy It Now for only: $500.00
Buy It Now | Bid now | Add to watch list

Rare Vintage Made In Holland Louet S10 Wooden Spinning Wheel Clothing Spool

$299.99
End Date: Saturday Feb-22-2020 7:28:00 PST
Buy It Now for only: $299.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Louet Spinning Wheel S 50/51 Plus Stool And Skein Winder

$334.95
End Date: Thursday Feb-20-2020 10:33:47 PST
Buy It Now for only: $334.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

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Wool Characteristics: aa043097

Contrary to popular belief, not all wool is rough and itchy. There are many different breeds of sheep, each with their own characteristics. Some wools are better suited for rugs and others for fine lace.

Sheep’s wool is classed by its thickness or diameter in microns (1 micron=1/1000 millimetre), by the amount of crimp it has (how wavy it is), by the length of staple (how long the fibers are) and by its lustre or shine. Crimp is a natural and permanent feature of the wool. It doesn’t wash out; rather it is restored when the wool fibers relax in water and it gives the wool yarn its loft and bounce. So a crimpier fiber will produce a yarn that is more springy and lively. I will reference only a few of the breeds, just to demonstrate the wide range of wools that are possible.

The fleece of the Churro sheep is nearly straight, coarse and long. The Churro sheep was introduced to America by the Spaniards. It is used by the Navajo in making rugs and blankets.

Romney is a medium diameter with an average staple length of 6.5 inches. Romney is one of the major sheep breeds in New Zealand. Other ones include Perendale, Coopworth and Lincoln, to name a few. Romney fiber can be spun worsted with a light twist making a soft yarn for sweaters, or clothing fabric. Coarser Romney wool, when spun with a tighter twist is suited for furnishing fabrics. Romney fiber dyes well, producing yarn with good colour.

Merino wool is the finest of all. It’s average diameter is 15 – 25 microns and staple lengths are 2 – 4 inches. Merino has a very close crimp, and can be spun into a very fine yarn, suitable for lace, fine clothing or baby blankets. Merino is naturally a very white fiber, so when dyed, produces light coloured, pastel shades.
Looking for a project to spin with just 6 ounces of merino? I used up odd bits of fiber from my stash, to spin these variegated socks. Or check in our ever-growing pattern library for a project that you can weave, knit or crochet into clothing, shawls, baby blankets or rugs.
Wool SuppliersWhere to find wool fiber for handspinning.

What kinds of fleece do you like to spin best?

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Ashford Spinning Wheel

$300.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Thursday Feb-20-2020 18:30:40 PST
Buy It Now for only: $500.00
Buy It Now | Bid now | Add to watch list

Rare Vintage Made In Holland Louet S10 Wooden Spinning Wheel Clothing Spool

$299.99
End Date: Saturday Feb-22-2020 7:28:00 PST
Buy It Now for only: $299.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Louet Spinning Wheel S 50/51 Plus Stool And Skein Winder

$334.95
End Date: Thursday Feb-20-2020 10:33:47 PST
Buy It Now for only: $334.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

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