Monday, December 27, 2010

Spinning the Breeds Part 1

Remember back in November I took that workshop with Deb Robson?  I promised some posts so here is a start.  Shetland was the first fiber we handled.  (as usual, click on the photos for big)

Primitive Breeds - Shetland
We started with a small bag full of locks.  This lock is representative of the lot.  Notice there are some really long fibers (I didn't stretch them out for the photo, but they measured about 7.5") and some shorter fibers.
These are the 4 distinct yarns created from that bag of locks.  The two mini-skeins on the left were spun in class.  The two on the right were spun at home.  All of the skeins in this photo have been plied and washed.

This is a close up of the yarn on the far left.  It is made from the longer fibers in the locks.  The longer fibers were separated by simply pulling them by the tips out of the lock.  Then they were combed on two pitch Louet mini-combs and spun worsted style before plying as a two ply from a center pull ball.   The yarn is very strong with very little elasticity.  It would make a good rug warp or a strong braid.

This is the second yarn from the left, spun in class.  It is made up of the shorter fibers left after the longest fibers were pulled out of the lock.  These shorter fibers were also processed on the Louet mini combs and the yarn was spun semi-worsted by allowing the twist to enter the drafting zone.  Again, this is a two ply yarn, spun from a center pull ball.  The yarn would be great for mittens, hat, or a cozy scarf, especially if I had made it a 3 ply.

Once I got home with the fiber, I decided to take a little more time in fiber prep.  I combed the locks with my Forsythe two pitch hand held combs to separate the longer fibers from the shorter ones.  Here are the little "nests" that I pulled off the combs, ready for spinning:

And here is the yarn made from them:

It's a two ply yarn, spun worsted from the combed "nests".  The plying was done from two separate bobbins.  There's a tad more spinning twist than plying twist in the yarn.  It's not as coarse as the first yarn because it has a greater mix of fibers than just the very long hairs.  The yarn has a lively hand and springs back to shape when crushed.  In this two ply it would be a great weaving yarn.  It would also knit up beautifully in lace patterns because it's springiness would hold open the lace eyelets and show off the patterning.

The combing waste was carded on hand carders and rolled into these rolags:

And below is the yarn spun from those rolags:

This yarn was spun with a supported long draw with just enough twist for the yarn to hold together, then plied with slightly more twist from two separate bobbins.  The yarn is loftier than the second yarn, which was spun semi-worsted.  It would make great mittens, which would probably full together to make a very dense fabric as the mittens are worn. 

So...four different yarns from one small batch of Shetland locks.  What fun!  Much thanks to Beth at The Spinning Loft for holding the workshop, washing all that wool, and putting together all the little packages of various breeds.

The next one of these posts  will be the Navajo Churro fleece.


  1. Lovely - isn't Shetland amazing - so versatile!

  2. Oh, looks so nice! I need to get reacquainted with my spinning wheel. I have some Coopworth roving that I would like to try.
    Have a wonderful New Year Valerie!

  3. Thank´s for this article. I´m learning all about spinning now. I have got Valaska sheeps and they have got very long locks (about 20 cm). And this is the way I can get a better yarn. Vladka from Czech Republic.

  4. Great post and photos!

    Sounds (and looks) like it was a terrific workshop!

    Shetland is so versatile... Nice to see you demonstrating the possibilities!

    will be watching for the Navajo Churro...yummy!

  5. You're a woman after my own heart, making neat little birds' nests of combed fiber and also using the combing waste to make another yarn. You'll see "discard" fibers in the book, where I thought it would be helpful--mostly, in that case, spinning the hair that comes out of some of the luxury fibers!

    Beautiful variety of yarns from that fleece. It's fun for me to see what you spun in class. I didn't have time to look at the details of what people were doing. And then to compare what you did at home, and with more time.


tie in the loose ends...