So, you may be wondering what ever happened to my Fleece to Finish projects for the month of May.
(Or maybe I’ve successfully distracted you with pretty pictures of fiber, yarn, finished objects and works in progress, and you haven’t thought about it at all…)
My May fiber got a little hung up in the shipping, so it came within a week of my June fiber.
And I actually didn’t just stuff it away. I scoured all four breeds in one go.
(And then I stuffed it away.)
At any rate, I’d like to show you what we have, and reassure you that it’s in the queue. In fact, it’s sitting quite close to the wheel, sending out occasional guilt vibes and reminders that I still need to get to it.
I’d imagine it will all get done during Tour de Fleece, which begins Saturday.
But in the meantime, here’s what we’ve got.
For May, the breeds are Corriedale and Polwarth.
I’d consider Corriedale a spinner’s go-to, all-purpose wool. It’s one of two (along with Bluefaced Leicester) breeds that I tend to recommend for beginning spinners, because its middling staple length and wonderful draftability make it a nice first spin.
Corriedale was developed in New Zealand and Australia, and once again, the goal of the breeding project was a dual-purpose sheep adapted to a unique environment–in this case, the grasslands of those regions. Corriedale soup has Merinos and Lincolns as its ingredients. There’s a lot of variety in this breed, so you can find a huge range of softness and staple length, depending on your source. I’ve had the joy of spinning at both ends of the softness range, with commercially prepared top that leaned toward the high end, and farm fiber that leaned toward the lower, softer end of the spectrum.
In fact, both of those spins would be my favorite Corriedale that’s crossed my wheel to date:
On top, and representing the slightly less soft side, Spunky Club for February 2012, Abstract. A three-ply. And on the bottom, two-ply, woollen-spun roving from Serenity Farms. Soft enough to make you appreciate that this breed can really vary.
Here’s the Polwarth:
If you’ve known me as a spinner for very long, you’ll know that Polwarth sits (in good company, of course) at the top of my list of favorites. Also developed in Australia, Polwarth also looks to Merinos and Lincolns for its heritage. In this case, leaning a bit finer, with Merino rams and MerinoxLincoln ewes. It’s a lovely, fine fine fine breed. Like Targhee, Polwarth does a grand poof–though not quite to the same degree–on finishing, and it’s a nice introduction when you’re ready to work with finewools. I’ve spun a lot of commercially prepped Polwarth in my time as a spinner, and I have to say I’m looking forward to combing this and seeing how it works out.
And for June, we have Clun Forest and Black Welsh. (Both new breeds for me, yay!)
Listed as a Conservation Breed, this lovely sheep developed on the Western coast of England, with the emphasis on meat. However, the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook tells us that this fiber “… deserves to be better known to textile enthusiasts.” I’m looking forward to getting to know it better myself.
(This vampire fiber refuses to be photgraphed! I’ll work on it…)
Black Welsh, another Conservation Breed, hails from the southern mountains of Wales, developed by selecting for color. And the picture doesn’t really reveal that color well, but it is black black black.
Now, an interesting thing occurred to me when scouring these four breeds. The Corriedale and Polwarth needed more trips through the scouring process. I believe each got two doses of Power Scour (the second lighter than the first), followed by a rinse. The Clun Forest and Black Welsh, on the other hand, seemed pretty clean to begin with (especially the Black Welsh), and only seemed to need one dip in the Power Scour, followed by a rinse. Being finer, the Corrie and Polwarth needed a bit lighter touch (though from what I understand, they won’t felt as readily as a Merino will), while the Clun Forest and Black Welsh seemed to not care too much about rougher handling.
I’ll be starting with the Corriedale, as soon as I get that BFL plied up, a job with an ETA of Friday night at this point.
I’m thinking I’ll comb most of it, but I might also flick a few locks and sample that as well.
Then I will try to intersperse the rest of these throughout my other spins in July. I’m thinking combs for the Polwarth, and breaking in my new hand cards on the Clun Forest and Black Welsh.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll even get ahead of the game and get my July homework done as well.
(Hey, a girl can be as unrealistic as she pleases in the murky world of the interwebs…and anyway, I can always distract you with pretty yarns and fibers. Then you’ll forget that I ever mentioned anything about the July homework here. Mwah-hahaha.)