One of the mixed blessings of living in the countryside is that if you mention to someone at a coffee morning that you spin, they are likely to say 'oh I have a shedfull of wool you can have'. Now, whilst not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth I also didn't want to end up with a ton of wool that's terrible to spin. So, I went home and did some internet research. Now, the internet is usually full of tons of information about anything you could ever want to know. But there isn't a lot about the wool from North Ronaldsay sheep which is what I'd been offered. There's a lot about the sheep, and about buying the wool but all I could find out was that it's supposed to be a mixture of coarse and fine and prone to felting, and fairly rare!
So, I went to meet the dear little curly horned things (but forgot to take a photo), and came home with about 6 fleeces in 5 pig feed bags, having promised the owner of the sheep some spun wool to knit into something!
And I must say it is the most fascinating wool I've ever handled/spun. Not that I'm any expert, but as I say I have bought/been given a multitude of different bits of wool over the years ranging from lovely, to only suitable for the compost bin! I had expected the North Ronaldsay wool to be fine with some coarser 'guard hairs' I think they are called on the outside. However, these are ram lambs from last year and this was their first shearing, so I think that the fine stuff I've extracted from the outside of the fleece is last years lambswool, it's not unlike cotton wool and makes even the softest other wool I've got feel like rug wool, it's absolutely AMAZING!
|a pile of North Ronaldsay fleeces|
|Close up of the wool, cut/skin side on left|
|Coarse (left) and fine(right) wool separated by pulling|
|bit from a different fleece, same coarse/fine mix|
|Pile of the coarser stuff|
|Pile of the finer stuff|
|Fine stuff on left, coarse stuff on right|
I thought the coarser stuff would be difficult to spin, but it's got enough fine stuff mixed in to make it spin up ok. I've got a peg loom on order for my birthday..I think it might make good warp for it.
I think I'll make a woolly vest with the fine stuff!