This week’s entries in my spin along with Deb Robson’s lists are Merino and Clun Forest. I know that Merino isn’t next on the spinning list, but I’m waiting for some Southdown (yay!) so I skipped ahead.
Merino has a reputation among spinners. They eitherÂ love it or don’t. I will admit to loving it, and also admit that Merino is the Diva of fibers, touchy and can be difficult to work with, but it completely worth it.
My merino was gooey and sticky, with little to no VM. It took 3 good soaks with Power Scour to get it spinnably clean. Even in it’s prewashed state it was soft and just got softer as I worked.
I will not lie, it was hard for me to spin. The worsted yarn I combed and spun in a class with Anne Field this past weekend. We learned about spinning to the crimp, and with this Merino that was fine and highly twisted. The woolen yarn I hand carded and spun in a style I like to call lumpy longdraw. I couldn’t get either yarn consistent, but I don’t mind. I know Merino takes patience and practice. It needs both high twist and a light hand. Both of my swatches were buttery soft, but I know the woolen yarn, used in a garment would pill like crazy. I’m willing to spend time working on my Merino skills, I think the fiber and resulting yarn is beautiful.
Commercially prepped Merino top is a much easier spin, but never as soft.
Most Merinos are white because of the amount of fiber needed to dye for the fashion industry.
Merino fleeces can weigh up to 40 pounds
Next up Clun Forest:
A springy fiber, easy to spin into an elastic, but soft yarn. The dirty fiber above took only one go round with Power Scour to go from dingy beige to nearly sparkly white. The washed fiber was softer than I expected, somewhere between Corriedale and BFL.
I hand carded the fiber and spun half woolen and half worsted. I wish I had given the fiber a few more passes with my cards or just used my drum carder, there were a few lumps and bumps in my yarn that were from just sheer laziness in my prep. Both yarns were elastic and soft, I was surprised a little by both. The semi worsted stayed softer than I expected, and would be pretty hard wearing; I’d love to have socks knit from it. The woolen yarn really bloomed and became lofty when I steamed it, just asking to be knit into a cardigan.
Current North American Clun Forest herds are all descended from a herd brought in North America in the 1970s
The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy lists Clun Forest as a recovering breed.
When I finished working with the Clun Forest I immediately started looking for a Clun Forest fleece. I think I better get better organized about storing and processing fleeces since I doubt this will be the last breed I need more of.
Jillian is the author of the best-selling spinning book Yarnitecture. She is the editor of Knittyspin and Developmental Editor for PLY and PLY Books. She kinda loves this spinning thing and wants everyone who spins to love it too, so she teaches and writes a lot. She knits, weaves, and stitches and tries to do as much of it as she can with handspun yarn. She's always cooking up all kinds of exciting and creative things combining fiber arts.
She likes her mysteries British, her walks woodsy, and to spend as much time as she can laughing.
Spy on her on her website jillianmoreno.com