FF: Tour de wool, Part I

Earlier this spring I decided that the easiest way to get a bunch of different fibers to spin would be to get a sampler pack. Off to Woodland Woolworks went my busy little typing fingers, and I ordered their Natural Colored Wool sampler pack: 0.5 oz of 16 different wools. Over the course of the last couple of months I've been spinning up these little samples, and I've pulled together some thoughts about them that may be of interest to other spinners out there. There are other reviews of these wools out there, but maybe I can contribute some further information.

All the fibers were spun under (more-or-less) the same conditions. I stripped each top in half lengthwise and spun from the end with a short-forward draw, smoothing the fibers as the twist entered (worsted spun). Samples were spun on a ST Lendrum folding wheel at 8:1 (I'm still a beginner!) and plied at 6:1 immediately after spinning the singles. Twist was set by submerging the skeins in very hot water, and skeins were agitated slightly as the water cooled. Finally, the skeins were dried hanging without weight. All of the samples were easy to draft and spin.

The samples in the pack broke down into softer and coarser wools. In this post I'll talk about the coarser wools, and save the softies for the second installment.

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(left to right - Grey Swalesdale, Romney and Jacob Brown)

1) Grey Swalesdale - 4" staple, didn't make note of the crimp. This stuff was probably the coarsest of the samples, and even after washing only really feels suitable for heavy outerwear. The final sample ended up at 8 wpi, about 11 yds from 0.5 oz.

2) Romney sliver - 6" staple, some crimp. Had to keep my hands farther apart then with the Swalesdale, which took some getting used to, but aside from that this was easy to spin. It feels ok in the skein - a bit coarse, but much softer then the Swalesdale. It has a nice sheen to it as well. 8 wpi, about yds/0.5 oz.

3) Jacob Brown - 4-4.5" staple, crimpy. A beautiful dark brown color. This was the only sample that had any real amount of VM, and even that was minor and easy to pick out as I was spinning. The fiber felt sort of clumpy - it was harder to draft evenly, and ended up being much thicker. The final stats were 6 wpi, only 8 yds/0.5 oz.

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(from left to right - Finnsheep, Grey Icelandic, Wensleydale and Corriedale Cross)

4) Finnsheep - >6" staple, no (low) crimp. This was particularly easy to draft, and I found myself doing quite a bit of backdrafting with this. Spun up quite similar to the Romney, and also had a bit of a sheen (maybe a function of the longer staple?). 8 wpi, 10 yds/0.5 oz.

5) Grey Icelandic - 6" staple, medium crimp. Slightly coarse fiber, slightly fuzzy when spun up. Good for sturdy outerwear. 8 wpi, 11 yds/0.5 oz.

6) Wensleydale Longwool - 7+ inch staple. Slightly coarse but spun up beautiful. Nice and smooth, it softened up after setting the twist and has a beautiful sheen to it. 8 wpi, 9+ yds/0.5 oz.

7) Corriedale Cross - 4" staple, medium crimp. Coarse as fiber, but felt much nicer in the skein. And such a pretty chocolate brown! 9 wpi, 12 yds/0.5 oz

That's it for this installment - next week the softer samples.