I finished up my BIG spin. Two pounds’s worth of wool is now yarn.
I started with a pound of Tunis and a pound of Gulf Coast Native (with a little mohair thrown into the mix). The American Tunis is named a Conservation Breed, while the GCNI is called a Critical Conservation Breed by The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook. What does that mean? It means that both breeds are somewhat rare around the world, and the Gulf Coast Native is particularly rare–hovering near extinction, in fact. This means they need support. While other breeds are wonderful to spin, seeking out rare breeds helps ensure their continued existence.
Why does that matter?
Diversity matters, friends. The more diversity in the gene pool for any species, the greater its chance of surviving any disasters, ecological changes, diseases and so on.
(…stepping back down from the soapbox…)
Now, the Tunis breed was developed from sheep that came to America way back in 1799. According to the Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook, George Washington used a Tunis ram to help build his flock at Mount Vernon, and the sheep was popular with other early American presidents, including John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
The wool itself is a nice creamy color, and spins up beautifully. I had a pound of roving (from Sandstone Ridge Farm in Southwestern Wisconsin), so I used a supported long draw to get about 650 yards’ worth of nice, fluffy woollen two-ply:
Gulf Coast Native, on the other hand, belongs to the Feral category. That means exactly what it sounds like. These half-wild sheep developed over the course of some hundreds of years from the sheep originally brought by the French and Spanish to the southeastern United States. These sheep are very close to extinction indeed.
Are they worth saving? Well, let me put it this way: These guys eat kudzu. And if that’s not enough, know that because they evolved to fit their climate, they are resistant to the parasites and diseases of their region.
And if even that’s not enough? Well. The wool, friends. It’s delightful to spin.
I spun this from roving from Running Moon Farm in Louisiana, using supported long draw for the mohair blend, and no support needed for the plain old Gulf Coast Native. I plied the two against each other for about 700 yards of lovely, squishy two-ply.
My current plan is to eventually knit a Taiga Cowichan from these yarns, though it might not be quite thick enough, which will mean holding two strands together (a thing I do not like doing). Or maybe I’ll come up with a different pattern. Still undecided.
Until then, I really do hope that you’ll take some time to check out these and other rare breeds. Because they generally are not commercially prepared top, they can be a bit trickier to spin, but very rewarding in the end.
Happy Spinning, Friends!