Monday, October 22, 2012

Primative Sheep Rovings

I decided I should post on my latest project of trying to spin as many primatve sheep breeds as I can get my hands on. I had the opportunity to attend the Dutchess County fibar festival last weekend in New York state. There were a great number of merchants from all over the country which specialized in fiber, mostly wool. I am still slightly boggled by the shear volume of yarns in many colors, weights and contents. The beautiful fall colors were a great backdrop.

I was, however, looking for some rovings from primative breeds. I have a list in mind for some of the breeds I would like to try including: Icelandic, Shetland, Jacob, Manx Loaghtan, Karakul, Soay, Heberdean and Merino. I realize there are other breeds out there that have been around for a long time, but these are the ones I want to start with. I had already had the opportunity to spin Shetland, Karakul and merino. When we got to the show, I was also introduced to the breed of North Ronaldsay sheep. I was lucky enough to score some rovings from North Ronaldsay, Jacob, Heberdean and Icelandic.
This picture shows some of the rovings I purchased. Starting at the dark one on the top left and proceeding clockwise they are: Heberdean, a mixed color ball of Jacob, a light grey North Ronaldsay, a moorit Icelandic and a white lamb Icelandic. As you can see from the picture I have already started spinning some of the white Icelandic and the N. Ronaldsay. I went to the show with a friend of mine who also has some Soay and Manx Loaghtan at home, and promised to ive me a small amount to play with.
I am going to spin them all on a drop spindle. At this point I am most familiar with a top whorl spindle so I will be using those eventhough I am trying to replicate a medieval mindset and top whorls were not that common. That is what I learned on, and therefore I am going to use them for now so the differences in the yarn will not be due to my learning a new technique. 
There are some very obvious differences that are immediately apparent just from handling the rovings. The Heberdean and the Karakul are both very harsh, scratchy wool, clearly useful in making rugs, blankets or heavy outerwear. The Karakul was so scratchy, it was painful to drape around my neck. On the other extreme, the Merino is very soft. The specific Merino I had did not take dye very well though.
Anyway, there is a lot of spinning, and dyeing to do to compare these varieties. I look forward to working with them in the near future. 

No comments: