The Wensleydales.

The last legs of my little Louet breed-specific spinning adventure are the Wensleydales, both sliver and top.  I first spun with Wensleydale wool earlier this year with a roving a friend purchased at a local farm.  My first foray into longwool, it kind of blew my mind. I found myself taking a long time with it as it took me a fair bit of time just to wrap my head around how long that staple length was. It also just wows me that unlike many breeds which date back very far into history with many pieces of their genetic puzzle unknown, the Wensleydale breed can be traced directly to the Leicester ram and Teeswater ewe that started the line in 1838. I find the simplicity of the history to be as elegant as the yarn I spin from the wool.

Having had a bit of experience with this type of wool, I knew that I wanted to spin both the Louet Wensleydale Sliver and Wensleydale Top the same way — in a roughly sport-weight 3ply using the Navajo plying method. I knew from my Shetland Sliver & Top experiment what the differences would be like between the two different preps. In fact, I was completely ready to delight in the unique skeins that were coming my way.

It wouldn’t be a proper end to this breed specific spinning adventure, however, without including a little something new. An unknown. So, I pulled out the lace flyer for my wheel. I’ve had my wheel a few years now and I’ve been learning and expanding my skills slowly, but surely. Previous to this project, I had tried my lace flyer exactly once for about 3minutes before I tucked it back into storage. That flyer was too fast for me! I’m happy to report today that ‘was’ — past tense — is the accurate tense. I made it through both 7oz bags of Wensleydale sliver & top singles using the lace flyer. Not only did I make it through, I enjoyed it. I am more than a bit chuffed at this accomplishment. And the yarn even turned out great. Double chuffed.

First, the sliver.

Wens Sliver no tagThe snowy white sliver is just a light, gorgeous dream.

Wens Sliver CloseIt has a hint of drape, but its most prevalent quality is that it is airy. Delicate.  I can see it shining as a simple shawl.

The top is denser, of course…Wens Top skeinAnd has drape to spare.

Wens Top CloseIt has more of a creamy color and is much silkier to the touch. I see this skein making any intricate lace shawl look amazing.

Wens TogetherBoth of these lovely skeins were an absolute delight to spin, especially with the lace flyer. The fibers flew through my hands both into singles and while plying. I don’t think I can pick favourites, but of this entire breed specific journey, I have to say that this pair of Wensleydales rank very high on my list. The experience of spinning these Wensleydale is actually somewhat hard for me to put into words. I love that — as I said earlier — it is so simple. The long staple length, the fast flyer. It is just an elegant process producing a beautiful yarn. From start to finish, I give the Louet Wensleydale sliver and top both an A+.

A Local Wensleydale

There are some projects that take a wee bit longer than I anticipate. For Christmas I received a beautiful 7oz of locally sourced Wensleydale wool available from the Moches Farm in Colgate, Wisconsin.20131221-145759.jpgA gorgeous natural ivory-white, this was like getting a little cloud for a gift. Do you see how it clearly says ‘7oz’ on the label? Despite having the label right there with it the whole time and the fact that it was clearly 7oz, for some reason I had it in my head that this was 4oz. When the singles weren’t done in a weekend, I re-checked the label to find my mistake. Somehow this was a set-back in my creative process and this turned into a slow-going spin.

This was my very first foray in spinning a longwool. I have to admit, I found it really enjoyable.

20140214-091120.jpgAs recommended by numerous resources, I opted for a lightweight worsted spun 3ply and I can already see that the drape will be amazing.

wensleydale jenniferIt is slightly more uneven & a smidge heavier than I was hoping. Both characteristics I attribute to my first run with a longwool — it took me a bit to get used to that longer staple length. Overall, though I am in love with this yarn. And I think I have just the right pattern for it… now, just to wash & dry it so I can get knitting!