Saturday, February 05, 2011

Breed study - Scottish Blackface

It's taken me awhile to get to this post.  Partly because I've been busy and partly because of a lack of enthusiasm. 

My first encounter with Scottish Blackface sheep was on a trip to Scotland nearly 26 years ago when I was a new handspinner.  While watching a few lambs gambol about on the green, I asked their shepherd if their wool was good.  He replied, "Aye, for stuffing a mattress."  Thus was my introduction to Blackface wool (as always, click on any photo for big):

This is the mass of wool I started with in class.

I sorted the locks by length in order to see the variability.

This is a close up showing the different types of fiber found in a Blackface fleece.

I used a pet slicker comb to comb out the fibers and laid them out as you see here (above).
Below is the mass of fibers that were combed out of the locks above:

In an attempt to find the best use for this fiber, five different yarns were spun.
From left to right:
1. Yarn spun directly from the slicker combed fibers.
2. Yarn spun from the mass of combed waste.
3. 4 ply yarn spun from cut, combed fibers.
4. 2 ply yarn from cut, combed fibers.
5. 2 ply yarn spun from the fold of combed fibers.
Close up of yarn 1

Close up of yarn 2

Close up of yarn 3

Close up of yarn 4.

Close up of yarn 5.
All of the yarns are pretty stiff and scratchy.  I imagine this wool could be good for rugs and floor mats.  Of the kind of yarn crafts that I do, there isn't much use for this wool.  But then again, I may prejudiced by that "mattress stuffing" comment from long ago.


  1. Might make a fine felting wool, looks like it has some luster from the pictures. Hard spun for weaving?

  2. It's known as "carpet wool." And other than stuffing mattresses, that's all it's good for!!

  3. Your samples are lovely!

    The method and results shown for sample number 3, makes me think it might be useful as a weft yarn?

    Then again...I'm no weaver...but as a spinner, the locks aren't making my fingers itch (at least not in a good way)


tie in the loose ends...