In the realm of the fiber arts, I got my start somewhere in the neighborhood of 25years ago as a crocheter with box store acrylics and then later wool/synthetic blends. Then I picked up knitting & started to sample different types of wool and animal fibers. Eventually my love of knitting led me to start spinning — you know, one thing leads to another. I am a relatively knowledgeable & experienced knitter, but nothing… nothing could have prepared me for the onslaught of knowledge that followed my learning to spin. Of course, I had expected that I would be learning about twist & staple length & spinning different weights of yarn in different ways. What I hadn’t realized was simply how many different types fiber there are out there. And they are all unique. I recognized Merino and Icelandic, Blue Faced Leicester and Teeswater (because a farm nearby happens to raise Teeswater sheep), but there are simply oodles of sheep breeds out there each with their own signature qualities. Whoa.
Aside from initially being completely overwhelmed, as with all things spinning I’m just diving in. After all, the best way to learn about breed specific wools is to spin with breed specific wools. I spin a fair bit from indie dyers — you see Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber and Dyeabolical here a lot — but I also really love a good, natural fiber. Before the dyes, just from the sheep to me. There are a lot of versions of sheep to wheel and I’m very thankful that for those like me who don’t have the space, time, tools, or cash to bring home a fresh from the sheep fleece to clean and card that there are places to get ready-to-spin breed specific fibers. The fine folks at Louet North America are one such source with their Canterbury Prize Wool Group.
The wonderful thing about this wool is that it is selected with the mindset of giving spinners the authentic, unique feel of each breed. Although experienced spinners will appreciate its high quality, this wool is also the perfect way for newer spinners — like me! — to really learn the difference not just between Jacob and Wensleydale, for example, but also to get a taste for sliver (pronounced sly-ver) versus top and so forth. I have been fortunate enough to get my hands on seven (yes, seven! wow!) different varieties from the Canterbury Prize Wool Group and I cannot wait to share the journey of spinning each with you.
Over the coming months, I will be sharing each of these spins here on the blog — from the research I do to learn about each breed to the thought process that goes into deciding how to spin it. These are almost all new to me, so it is sure to be a wild and wonderful learning experience for all of us! If you are a spinner, by all means, feel free to join me — I would love to hear your input, too!
Would you like to see a close-up of some this beautiful wool?
This is the lusciously smooth Wensleydale Top. I love the variance in colors and it is so soft. Seriously, I wish you could reach through your computer and touch it. You probably wouldn’t let it go if you could! And that’s just the thing with breed specific wools and spinning — each wool has such personality. From the first touch, you can see and feel the unique qualities of each breed. Oh, this is going to be a wonderful little adventure we’re going to have. I’ll be starting this journey soon, so stay tuned! And don’t forget — feel free to join me and share your experiences, too!