Monday, 31 December 2012

The summer of my discontent


Oh black water…. The Doobie brothers may have no worries but they never had upstairs’ overflowin’ toilet on their minds when they decided instead to go off dancing with your daddy all night long to that funky Dixieland!

Summer started out a bit shitty, no make that a lot shitty as in black water was pouring through the pot lights, bathroom ceiling and down the walls. Thank you Ms. It’s-OK-it’s-OK-no-problem-I’ve-cleaned-it-up upstairs neighbour. When you turn off the bath faucet and continue to hear running water and you know you didn’t put on a Zen waterfall relaxation CD, get the heck out of your relaxing bath and check the source of the running water!

 

With the precision of Jackie Chan I quickfire the stack of bath towels on the encroaching black water, chasing it as it divides into the bedroom and hallway. Flying to the disaster I see my nearly new bra which had been missing for far too long reveal itself from amongst the towels.  Every absorbent item within my reach now absorbing the water and restoration company en route, I turn my attention to the yarn and fiber room I affectionately call The Belfry. It would be needless to add that right now I am feeling very, very ill. With a box of Spin Off magazines already floating from having been in the unfortunate position of underneath a bathroom tap pot light, I entered the belfry expecting the worst. To my utter relief or was it disbelief, there was no water in the room…on the ceiling, walls, floor, nowhere! Thus by the laws of Cum hoc ergo propter hoc, a well stuffed stash is a protection against disaster, a force field even. Yarn/fiber/stash, when stored in sufficient quantity will repel water!!

One night. 2 dehumidifiers the size of filing cabinets and the decibels of Cessna engines was enough to grab a few essentials, shut the door and walk run away.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Sheep to Shawl


Armed with 10 completed sheep breeds and Breed Binder, we headed off for our first public appearance, as part of the 2012 Sheep to Shawl Competition in Surrey BC. I am a member of the Richmond Weavers and Spinners team (my 3rd year). Teams consist of a weaver, 4 spinners, a plyer and steward/educator where washed fleece will be taken to finished, woven shawl in 3 hours. In judging, 10 points are awarded for education and display so in a competition where only a point or 2 can be the difference between 1st and 2nd, every little detail counts.
The Breed Binder was a fabulous draw to our display as initially like me, who knew there were so many kinds of sheep? Visitors were fascinated by the difference in fibers with of course Cormo winning the fight for fondling. I never tired of hearing Wow as I would glance up to see the Cormo being stretched in and out like an accordion. As I spun, I was filled with pride at the interest my samples and binder garnered and couldn’t wait to help it grow. I am also proud to say that our RWSG team, the Yarn Birds (Yeah thanks Pauline for that name…the same Pauline of Chee-vee-iot fame) won first prize for our shawl which was handed in to the sound of my cowbell ringing friend, Dotty.

…well, I think we won. The lone judge was making excuses
and apologies for the winning team without actually
 announcing them as winners nor asking congratulations
 from the audience until Judith screamed “We Won!” What’s
with that? It was a beautiful, flawlessly woven shawl of
handspun  and hand dyed warp and presented with an even
twisted fringe. And as for the “Look at them, they’ve been
spinning all their lives” comment from the Judge,
 go sit on a tack!



1: [1]I’m under 50
2:[2]I have blue hair
3: I’ve been spinning 3 years


[1] Except for the time at the River Rock Casino buffet when the attendant asked how many seniors . Having performed a scan of the non-existent line up, I asked what she meant. She meant me! I was 43! 43 I tell you and worthy of every indignant exclamation mark!! Her turn will come soon enough, biatch.
[2] Hmmm, my Nana had blue hair too…just a bit more pastel and a bit less electric!



 




[1] Except for the time at the River Rock Casino buffet when the attendant asked how many seniors . Having performed a scan of the non-existent line up, I asked what she meant. She meant me! I was 43! 43 I tell you and worthy of every indignant exclamation mark!! Her turn will come soon enough, biatch.


[2] Hmmm,not a useful point as my Nana had blue hair too…just a bit more pastel and a bit less electric!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

CormO-M-G!


Cormo

Staple: 8.5-12.5cm

Micron: 21-23

About Cormo Sheep:  The Cormo were developed in the earlier part of the 1960's in Tasmania, Australia, just like me with the exception of inception for me was on the Mainland. Corriedale rams were crossed with Saxon Merino (Heck yeah I want a whole lot of that!) ewes. The fleeces are consistent with 90% having to be within 2 microns of the average.

 

My Spinning experience: Before I go any further, I am adding Cormo to my Top 10 of I-want-more-of-this-stuff list. I had never spun anything before with such elasticity. It was the most amazing spinning experience. The fiber has a well-defined crimp which made it not only fun but quite easy to spin. My sample was flicked open locks. With such a fine fiber, caution need be taken with processing as it would be so easy to spoil with neps by improper carding.
The resulting yarn was incredibly sproingy and would be perfect for anything requiring wickedly insane elasticity in addition to unbelievable softness.

More than any other, the super soft Cormo fleece/yarn sample garnered the most attention on our display at the recent Sheep to Shawl competition.

My princess skin rating is 4 ½ stars

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Chee-vee-iot, chee-vee-iot, chee-vee-iot!


Cheviot

Staple: 10-15cm

Micron 24-33

About Cheviot sheep :pronounced Chee-vee-iot) there appears no reliable information further than that sheep were in 1372 "a small, but very hardy race over large tracts of the Cheviot Hills". Originally there were 3 types within the breed being Border Cheviot or South Country Cheviot, [1]Brecknock Hill Cheviot (from Wales) and North Country Cheviot (from Scotland). The Cheviot Sheep Society was formed in 1890 and is one of the oldest sheep societies in existence. They are used a lot in breeding including Canadian Arcott, Montdale, Border Leicester, Rygja, Steigar and Perendale. They blend extremely well with other breeds.

The wool has a unique 3D crimp.

My princess skin rating 3 stars

My Spinning experience: my sample was an easy spin from a flicked open lock. The resulting yarn was medium in coarseness with next to skin wear ability. Apparently it is a fabulous yarn for socks. Cheviot fiber blends well with other fibers. I currently have some pretty Cheviot/Tussah Silk on my wheel. At spin night the other week I was asked about my fiber by my fellow spinners.  Cheviot (pronouncing She-vee-ot) I replied. Pauline commented how she always thought it Chee-vee-iot. Now Pauline’s from the UK so she may just be on to something with the rest of the group hailing from Australia, Germany, Norway and Canada. I took to the internet, specifically Ravelry when I got home and posed the very same question. Just how do you pronounce Cheviot? Aj from Fair Isle weighed in with chee is correct, pronounce it shee and English breed society will look at you in alarm. That was enough to implant a Chee-vee-it earworm which sadly enough is back after writing this article. Chee-vee-it, chee-vee-it, chee-vee-it…as I run screaming from the room.



[1] Now known as Miniature Cheviot Sheep in the USA

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Cotswold


Cotswold

Critical Conservation Breed

Staple: 18-38cm

Micron: 33-42

About the Cotswold: It is very hard to date this breed.  It has been written that they are as old as the hills with references to them being brought to England by the Phoenicians between 500BC and 100BC. Other references have them introduced by the Romans with their wool known as the '[1]Golden Fleece’.  Modern Cotswolds date to the Leicester Longwools of the late 18th, early 19th century when introduced to Native sheep. As an important export, they not only played a major role in the development of many Cotswold towns and villages, but also in the finances of the nation. A wool ransom paid for Richard the Lionheart's release. The Lord Chancellor sits in The House of Lords to this day on a sack stuffed with wool to show the pre-eminent position which the wool industry has played in this country's affairs.  Cotswolds are a large sheep with long, curly locks and distinguished by a fine tuft of wool on the forehead.

 

My spinning experience:  Whilst not spinning [2]golden threads with my Cotswold sample, it was a really pleasant spin from a well prepared fiber.  The fiber was long and didn’t require a lot of twist. My resulting yarn would knit up with great stitch definition…with or without the gold. It would also be awesome as a tailspun art yarn. I would love to have enough to weave and whilst modern commercial yarns with silver are readily available, wouldn’t it be fabulous to spin and weave this with gold, for historic value of course! I recommend Cotswold as a fleece you simply must spin. I could have written pages for all that I have read so recommend reading further on them for the full experience.

 
Cotswold addendum: I was recently at the GVWSG where they had a table of old books by donation. the sheep on the cover of Cotswold farm rare Breeds Survival centre booklet immediately caught my eye and insisted on not being put down. I initially read the book by the cover and wrongly assumed it to be just about Cotswold sheep which would have totally not been a bad thing. it was so much more but I would like to add a few really interesting snippets I didn't read anywhere else.

The actual name of Cotswold is derived from Cotes, the shelter in which sheep are wintered and Wolds being hills, so...Cotswold Sheep are Wolds of the sheep Cotes. Also of interest I didn't find anywhere else is that Cotswold sheep are always washed before shearing and that every village in the Cotswolds has its own wash pool.

Lastly, it was often dyed red for Cardnals' robes. thus far the Cotswold sheep would have to be one of the most fascinating and richest histories I have thus far studied.


[1] Perhaps supported by the writings of amongst others, Herodotus(450BC) pointing to the province of Koraxis in the land of Colchis (today's Georgia, by the Black Sea) as the origin of cloth of gold using wool in place of flax.
[2] Gold, beaten, cut and drawn into exceedingly fine filaments, was woven into the wool.  The first known description of this process (Exodus 39:3). It was known as the Golden Cloth.


 


Monday, 3 September 2012

Corriedale


Corriedale

Staple 7.5-12.5cm

Micron: 24-33

About the Corriedale Sheep: Corries are accredited to New Zealander, James Little in 1874 where he bred Merinos with Lincolns. By 1890, these crossbreeds became known as Corriedales.  They adapt to a wide range of climatic conditions from the heat of the equator to the peaks of the Andes. Should you come across a Falkland fleece, good chance it is a Corriedale. Same as for fiber sold as Punta. Punta is not actually a specific breed but the name given to sheep that pass through the port of Punta Arenas, Chile. With such a broad micron range, one Corriedale can feel very, very different from another.  Corriedales are thought to be perhaps the second most numerous breed of sheep in the world exceeding 100,000,000!

 

My spinning experience: Great, great, just great. Tell them it’s great. That’s how you do it” my Husband offers in response to my wanting to write before we head on out to the hardware store. You know, I think he is right. Whilst I’d like to think he has been learning something as he continues to not only keep the Master List updated but to keep the laminated cards for the skeins all organized as well. One thing to keep in mind when selecting Corriedale to spin is that it can come in wildly varying micron count leaving you unrestrainedly excited to possibly indifferent. My sample was….just great! Look at that crimp.

My Princess skin rating is 3 ½ stars

Saturday, 1 September 2012

California Variegated Mutant


California Variegated Mutant or CVM

Critically rare breed
(in 1990, less than 2,000 worldwide)

Staple: 7.5-15cm

Micron: 21-25

About California variegated mutant sheep: CVM have a fascinating history coming from 2 badger faced lambs appearing in a Rommeldale flock in the 1960’s. Large scale mills avoided even a single fiber of random colours showing up in fleece, resulting with culling of the coloured lambs. Californian, Glen Eidman(passed away 1999) saw things differently and bred these sheep focusing on the colour and fleece quality. With mills turning away the coloured fleece, CVM’s were marketed towards hand spinners. CVM offer near limitless colour and marking combinations (including dark grey, black, brown, moorit and spotted, barred face badger pattern) in addition to lovely fleece that not only [1]darken but become finer with age.
                               
My spinning experience: I had never spun CVM and was immediately in love. It was an easy, enjoyable spin with the resulting yarn as sproingy as heck…or lofty if you prefer. I ended up spinning this breed fleece from 2 different sources and have not been disappointed at all. Californian Variegated Mutant is hereby the first breed of this project to be added to my Top 10 of I-want-more-of-this-stuff list.



[1] Most sheep are born their darkest and lighten with age

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

My first, firstly, and foremost fiber...Coopworth


My next group spin I appear to have my hand caught in the “C” basket. Coopworth, CVM, Corriedale, Cotswold, Cheviot and Cormo! Again my unreliable memoirs bother me as my calendar tells me this was a Saturday. I am starting to suspect I may have been home sick from work and bored out of my gourd. My usual activity when I am at home sick is to paint. Not pretty pictures, but our condominium. I have even had to email pictures of the condo to my husband at work else he goes into the wrong home. One of his favourite stories was when I had bronchitis and he goes to work as usual, only to come home to find the bedroom no longer a mind numbing magnolia but a fun, vibrant bright orange! So fiber addled brain aside, my next spin is Coopworth.

Coopworth

Micron 30-39

Staple 2.5-20.5

About Coopworth: They were developed in New Zealand in the 1950’s using Romney and Border Leicester led by college professor, Ian Coop at Lincoln College in Canterbury NZ. The breed and name was adopted in 1963..a memorable year. JFK left the world and I entered!
Coopworth fleece differ depending on geographic location but they all have defined crimp, luster and long staple fleece.


My spinning experience: Coopworth is a very easy spin. It was actually the first fiber I ever spun. Heck, I made yarn on my first lesson so it must be an easy spin! It spins easily form lock and is not dense of grease. Books decry Coopworth's next to skin softness. I'm a bit of a Princess where fiber softness goes and my sample whereas not super soft would be just fine for a sweater, scarf, gloves etc.  My first skein of Coopworth however is just perfectly suited to be on display and nowhere near my porcelain Princess skin.
Coopworth: My first fiber. My first ever skein of yarn

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Spin, Wash, Rinse, Dry...Repeat


The spin cycle: I prefer to spin fine singles. It gives me the biggest entertainment value for my buck since it takes longer to spin. If I want a heavier yarn, I can always 3 ply. For this project, I have decided to aim for a sport/worsted weight 2 ply yarn. I figure it should be a happy medium where most of the fibers should show well. I would like them all similar weight for best tactile comparison, coz heck, after doing all this work, I will take it to Guild demonstrations and events we participate in the community and anywhere else  where I can create a Segway in the conversation. A lot of spinners (Well I hear them everywhere) lament their lack of ability to spin anything other than fine yarn the longer they spin. Not so. It means that you have found you comfort zone or default. Now you need to make your wheel work for you. Adjust those pulleys, whorls, brake bands and tensions and spin at that default comfort zone and you will be surprised how you can spin absolutely any weight you choose. Think smaller whorl for smaller yarn, thicker whorl or pulley for thicker yarn.

So…worsted it is. I have my 20g of fiber and I spin it up onto my bobbin…all of it save a wee tuft for my binder. 20g at this weight will give you an easily manageable amount to work with.

I now release my brake band and wind the single onto my ball winder. Without it coming off the leader, I carefully take the yarn off the ball winder, holding on to the inside end. I tie this end to the leader, ready to make a 2 ply working from both the inside and outside of the ball. 


 Tighten up your brake band and start your plying. The first few times may take a bit of juggling but go slow and observe just how the single comes off the ball. This will help you decide the most comfortable and effective way to hold the ball. I have heard some spinners put their thumb into the middle of the ball but I tend to have the inside leader coming on the right (away from my body) and the outside coming easily and untangled off the left (nearest my body). 

 
 
Once plied, loosen the brake band again and wind onto a niddy noddy. Secure the skein in several places and you are done!

 
 
Wash Cycle: I didn’t really want to wash every skein separately and I’m not quite ready for a blindfolded sheep breed test so I needed a solution to washing several skins at once.
The solution came in the form of wee plastic bread bag locks. I’m not sure if it is just an Aussie thing or the generation I was raised as in recycling before it was even called recycling. I didn’t know about landfills and such, only that a lot of items have awesome uses for other than what they were originally designed.  One of my first jobs where I actualy got paid, was teaching to make paper plate puppets. They were even in an exhibition. Forget thinking outside the box; why even think it a box in the first place I won’t hop onto my soap box but it gives me great satisfaction to repurpose items. Recently my friend Judith from Ontario took our guild by storm with her shopping bags woven from cut up bread bags. Having worked in a commercial kitchen the bread bags drove me to distraction…or concentration to seek a solution. I knit and crocheted them into bags and had a little production of the Care facility residents doing the same.  They took a long time. Jim Crocce, I have a few verses I’d like to add if I could Find time in a Bottle.  Anyway, the woven ones were speedy and it was great to supply the whole guild with bags. The craze even took over my husband, inspiring him to learn to weave. The bread bag conundrum has been solved with a new purpose for the bag locks.

With an indelible ink pen, I write the breed on the lock and clip it to the skein. If you have enough of these tags you can also lock it around your wee fleece sample until you are ready to put it in a binder. If you don’t have enough or any of these bread bag locks, drop me a message and I would be happy to send you an envelope full. Now you can soak all your skeins together. The tags won’t fall off nor does writing rub off.

The Rinse Cycle: After a 20 minute soak in Eucalan, or non-enzyme dish detergent for yarns that were [1]spun in the grease, I gently squeeze the water from the skeins.  Next destination is outside to the patio on my concrete step where I thwack the living daylights out of each skein, maybe 2 at a time, moving the skein 1/8 turn until I have worked my way around the whole skein. This sets the twist. With my hands on the inside of the skein, I snap my hands outwards. This pretty much is my washing process though I have heard of others partaking of the “helicoptering” step. I will admit that I have never even tried this as the visual of the skein flying off my finger as I twirl it, heading over the fence to lasso the aerial of a passing car, down the street and far away is a vision too vivid to ignore.
 
The drying cycle: is the final step, before the displaying the fruits of your labour. I bought this fantastic round, covered skein/fleece drying rack. I can only guess that spinning is a very popular art as these dryers are everywhere.  They come in all kinds of sizes, number of drying ribs, and coordinating fabric covers. They keep the yarns safe from the elements and marauding packs of chickadees looking for readymade nest walls. They are dual purpose and also serve to provide shade in my garden. My husband calls my drying rack a garden umbrella. Huh.

 



[1] Fleece that has not been scoured of all its lanolin or grease before spinning is called spinning in the grease. It is just lovely on your hands.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Gummy bears and fluffy sheep


 
Taste, test, try....
Whereas all brands of gummy bears are not created equal, the same can be said of fleece within a breed. Even with certain breeds like Cormo and BFL where fleece is very consistent within the breed, there are also other variables, in particular from shearing and processing. We all dream of a clean first cut from a coated sheep but may come across [1]vegetable matter, [2]second cuts, fibers that break easily and chemically over processing which results in dry, crisp and [3]neps.

 

As you delve into the different breeds, you will find a relatively small number available as commercially processed top and rovings. As you go even further into the more rare and endangered sheep, you will pretty much take what you can get. I should mention now if anyone feels so inclined to send me a Saxon Merino fleece, I’ll help you out and pick up the shipping. Hey, least I can do.

 

But what really is my point here or have I lost the plot of this post? What I want to say is, I have gotten some really shitty samples but don’t want to discount the whole breed because of 20g. Instead I’ll add it to my try-it-again list but from a different source if possible. Same goes for a fiber that I absolutely love and trust me, read on. There will be many. I want to try that breed again, perhaps in lock if I had spun roving,  before I go committing to a whole fleece…unless the aforementioned Saxon.

 

Border Leicester
Longwool

Staple: 10-25.5(Half that if shorn 2x year)
 
Micron: depending on country but

              ranges 29.25(UK)-40(NZ)


About Border Leicester Sheep: Are in direct lineage to the 1767 Dishley Leicester (now extinct).By 1789 there were two distinct types of “Dishley Leicester” evolving in the English border counties. One flock was being crossed with Teeswater (nicknamed Bluecaps) and another on the other border, crossed with Cheviot (nicknamed Redlegs). The Border farmers preferred the hardier redlegs and by about 1850 this variation of the “Dishley Leicester” became known as Border Leicester

 
My spinning experience:  with slightly less slick fibers than the BFL, this is an easier manageable spin with slightly less luster. The yarn would provide lovely stitch definition. Locks (which I spun for my sample) were long and lustrous, perfect for dyeing or art yarn tail spinning. This was an easy, enjoyable spin.
 

 


[1] Vegetation, amongst other things caught up in the fleece
[2] Where the shearer cuts an already cut fiber. If not removed, they can cause pilling in the resulting yarn/garment
[3] Little annoying balls that drive you bonkers picking them out of fiber that can be caused by incorrect  carding, second cuts

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Embrace the Face


Bluefaced Leicester

Leicester longwool Breed 

Staple7.5-15cm

Micron 24-28

About Bluefaced Leicester sheep: The blue face comes from the very fine white hairs over the dark black skin creating the visual illusion of a blue hue. They also have erect ears and wool is tightly purled, fine and semi-lustrous. The Bluefaced Leicester (Pronounced Lester) sheep evolved in Northumberland in the early 1900’s as direct descendants of the now extinct, Dishley Leicester. They were first brought over to Canada in 1970. The BFL is also one of the largest British breed sheep.

 

My Spinning experience: There seems to be 2 kinds of spinners where BFL is concerned. One is those who love spinning BFL and one is those who love spinning BFL.  My previous experiences with BFL have been with top or dyed roving. Did you know that top is fiber all lined up perfectly in the one direction and just by dyeing top, it is no longer top? Through the dyeing process, no matter how careful, the fiber is no longer perfectly aligned, making it roving. I’d personally take this fact to the bank as it was told me at a workshop by Judith MacKenzie.

Anyway, back to the BFL. So, my experience till now was primarily of top or roving (and will be for quite some time with it constituting a good 25% of my stash). BFL is a lovely fiber that dyes beautifully and blends exceptionally well with fibers like silk. My lock spinning experience was also a pleasant one.  If spinning top, make sure to fluff it out a bit to allow easy drafting without it grabbing and running away from you in a clump. Spinning from the lock was a breeze. The finished yarn shows lovely stitch definition and is lovely as next to skin soft for knit/woven garments.

 

 

Badger Faced Welsh Mountain

Staple: 7.5-10cm

Micron: 26-37

About Badger Faced Welsh Mountain Sheep  Have roamed the Welsh hills for centuries but only reached , recognized breed status in 1976, the same year that Peter Casserly of New Zealand hand sheared a record 353 lambs in 9 hours (he also sheared Shrek) and The Donnie and Marie Show debuted on the tube. They, the Badger faced sheep and not Donnie and Marie, were also used as markers on hills for shepherds to locate their flocks. There are 2 distinctive type of badger Faced Welsh Mountain sheep. Torddu (pronounced Torthee) has a dark belly, face markings and a light coloured fleece. It is 3 times more numerous than Torwen and considered The Badger. The other, Torwen has a white belly, face markings and dark fleece.

The breed is primarily a meat sheep though the fleece was processed locally, dyed and woven into the famous Welsh red cloaks.

My Spinning Experience: My Torddu sample was sooo interesting looking in the wee baggie. I only wish I left it in there! The colours are stunning in their range, especially within the [i]kemp which gave me an incredible looking yarn but too prickly for next-to-skin wear. Anyway, my sample included everything from short fibers to even shorter second and likely 3rd cuts. Kemp of every colour and bits of absolutely everything the sheep came into contact with. It was obviously a happy sheep as it must have roamed near and far, being so filthy. The fiber was quite dry (little to no lanolin/grease) but no way it could have been cleaned. Surely. With such short fibers I had to spin this one a little longer draw.
 
 
After the Torddu….it was clearly evident that my breed stash needed restructuring and my floor, wheel and clothes, cleaning. I needed a wine.
My resolution:
Pile 1:Commercially prepared and ready to spin fiber and/or locks
Pile 2: Looks clean but needs carding
Pile 3: The raw and I-haven’t-a-clue-what-to-do-with-that pile
 


[i] Kemp: The heaviest, coarsest hair fibers. They do not accept dye and can be prickly in the resulting yarn. Kemp is not desirable in a fleece for hand spinning but does create a tweedy effect.


Tuesday, 21 August 2012

It Takes a Village to Raise a Flock


I have bought, traded, bartered and been bestowed my breed fibers so one bit of housekeeping before I start my fleece odyssey is to thank everyone that has contributed to my fibery flock. I’d name you all but would hate to miss anyone and thus making anyone the black sheep, so to speak.

Black sheep you say?

As I plunge my hand into a basket crammed with fiber baggies, I emerge victorious with my first sheep breed fiber to spin….almost

I recorded commencing spinning on the 9th March (Why a Friday, I have no idea. I also have no idea why it bothers me so much that it should be a Friday and not a Sunday) but some 5 months ago I do recall it going something like the above scenario, except the basket was so jammed packed I was like a monkey with its fist in a jar and 3 baggies popped out. Immediately the intense black fiber caught my eye.

With Aubrey (my Schacht Matchless DT) all oiled up, glass of wine to the left (more of a completely reasonable assumption than actual recollection), my ball winder to the right, I deftly release the seal of the snack sized, no-name plastic baggie. Intensely black fiber bursting forth from its plastic restraints…

In the beginning there was the Black Welsh Mountain Sheep.

Black Welsh Mountain Sheep

Primitive, rare breed (approx 10,000 worldwide)                          

Staple 5-10cm

Micron 26-36

About the Black Welsh Mountain Sheep: Originally from the Southern mountains of Wales, these hardy, self-reliant, small black sheep have been around since medieval times. They are easily managed with a natural resistance to disease.  With a true black (Cuchddu) fleece, they are devoid of wool on the face and below the knee & hock. The meat is lean and the wool medium soft and dense.

My Spinning experience: My sample came from the UK so apparently not as fine as the US flock. This fleece is truly black. My sample was washed fleece locks. A little dry but easy to draft right from the lock. No need for carding. It spun up easily and evenly and bulked up after washing. Did I mention this fleece is black? If you were to work on a knit/woven project using natural colours, then this is the black you need. I did say it was black, right?