Monday, January 03, 2011

Spinnning the Breeds - Navajo Churro

This is the second entry on the primitive breeds.   Deb defined the primitive breeds as those being closer to the wild animal vs. the domesticated animal.  She also gave us a list of characteristics that included:
  • there may be a mix of fiber types in the fleece.
  • there may be a mix of fiber diameters in the fleece.
  • the crimp may be irregular.
  • more likely to have colored fleeces.
  • and a lower yield.
There's more....lots more, but Deb has a book coming out in the spring and I just want to whet your appetite for all the sheepy, fleecey, goodness that will be served up there.

So...the Churro:

Here we have just under an ounce of washed Navajo Churro locks.  The thing that struck me most in handling the fiber was it's dryness.  It certainly wasn't over scoured, it's just that this wool did not have the grease and oils that I've come to associate with wool.  Upon the first feel, it reminded me more of the camelid fibers because of this dryness.
Here are three locks selected from the mass of fiber.  Note the variation.
This was the very first yarn spun from this fiber in class.  It's a 2 ply made from locks combed on my Louet mini combs, spun semi-worsted (I allowed some twist into the drafting area), and plied from a center pull ball.  It's a haphazard sort of yarn, but this was a busy workshop.

So I got the rest of the fiber home and decided to do the same thing that I did with the Shetland.  I combed the mass of fibers on my Forsythe two pitch combs and produced these nice little combed nests:
Yes, I am a bit of a control freak and it is sometimes to the detriment of my spinning.  But you have to love these nice orderly little nests of fiber.  I spun these nests with a worsted draw (no twist allowed in the drafting zone) and plied the yarn from two separate bobbins.  The singles came out to about 35 wpi, plied yarn about 21 wpi.  There's about 5 plying twists to the inch and the yarn is pretty much balanced.  It's not very elastic and would be better for weaving than knitting.  You'll see the yarn from these later. 

Meanwhile here's the combing waste:

Wow!  That's a lot of fiber still left.  So I sat down with the hand cards and produced these fat, sausage-like rolags:

These were spun up woolen style with a supported long draw and just enough twist to hold the fibers together.  The yarn was then plied into a 3 ply from three separate bobbins.  There are about 4 plying twists to the inch.  The yarn is nice and lofty, and would make a great knitting yarn at about 9 wpi.

Here are the two yarns together:
The worsted is on the left and the woolen is on the right.

Here's a closer look:

Two ply worsted on the left, three ply woolen on the right.

Here's a close up of some of the fibers left from the rolags:
Click for big and note the different types of fiber in the fleece.  Those short dark fibers in the upper left and in the center aren't second cuts.  They are just some short, wiry little fibers that are all part of the package.

The worsted yarn would be nice for a blanket or outerwear but is kind of scratchy for anything close to the skin.  The woolen yarn would be great for mittens or gloves.  It would also make a warm hat, but I would probably make it a double thickness with something a little softer next to the skin.

So there you go...that's my first round with Navajo Churro.
Once again, thanks to Beth Smith at the Spinning Loft for providing the washed fibers and hosting the workshop (Beth & Chelsea do mail order...I just got 2 oz. of birthday quiviut in today's mail...color me happy!)  And thanks to Deb for the great class!

Next fiber will be Karakul, but there will probably be posts of a different sort before that. 


  1. Happy New Year Val.

    I just love your spinning. You do such a nice job.

  2. I am looking forward to your posts about these. I have never spun NC before so this was very informative. Love karakul - still using up 2 huge 05 gift fleeces. Sara L ended up with roving - I was so weary of the karakul! Can't wait to see what you decide to do.

  3. Lovely spinning! and good examples of how to deal with those dual coated types ;-)

    ...proof that there IS no bad fiber...just different ways to use it!

    I'm enjoying these breed postings!
    And will be waiting for the book-lucky you- hands on!

  4. You're most welcome for the class, Val! Thanks so much for being there.

    I had to laugh at "It's a haphazard sort of yarn, but this was a busy workshop." You could say that about every one of the samples in the upcoming book as well.

    On the definition of "primitive" wools: yes, that's the working definition I gave you and yes, the so-called primitive wools are closer to what's grown by the wild sheep than, say, Merino, which I used as my example of what we'd consider *not* to be a primitive wool. Yet I've got future thinking and writing to do on how we use terms to describe wools, because wools that we wouldn't call primitive have been around for a very long time, too. But that's a topic for another year, probably!

    The "lower yield" applies in that the fleeces tend to be smaller per animal. The yield per pound of raw-to-clean wool may be higher, however, because the fleeces tend to be lower in grease and suint than the more consistent, tightly crimped types.

  5. Interesting class. Since you can't wear this fleece against your skin, the worsted could only be used as, well, I'm not sure what. You own a rug loom. Maybe a rug?


tie in the loose ends...