White American wool, Shetland Moorit, Merino 64's and BFL
In the previous post, I reviewed the coarse wools from the sampler pack. This installment will cover the softer fibers. Note: I meant to reference Sarah's review of this sampler (page down to April 20 and 23 entries) in the first post but managed to leave it out completely. Check out what she has to say about the fibers as well.
1) American wool - 5" staple, soft and smooth. This was the coarsest of the softer fibers. I wouldn't have any trouble wearing it next to my skin, but I'm not very sensitive to that sort of thing. This was really easy to spin - it just flowed. After washing, 9 wpi, 12 yds from 0.5 oz.
2) Shetland Moorit - ~4" staple, crimpy and soft. This felt much softer as fiber then yarn unfortunately. I found that it wanted to be a thinner single (although given the final wpi counts of these samples, "thinner" is all relative!). Certainly the softest of the colored fibers. After washing, 9 wpi, 16 yds from 0.5 oz.
3) Standard merino 64's - very very soft fiber, ~3.5" staple, didn't note down the crimp. My notes say "the new crack", so I guess it was pretty good to spin! Very soft in the skein too. 19 wpi, 14 yds/0.5 oz.
4) Blue Faced Leicester - A favorite, ~4-5" staple, lots of crimp, soft and so easy to spin. BFL is one of my favorites (even after only a few months of spinning), and I'm looking forward to lots more of this in the future. 10 wpi, 12 yds/0.5 oz.
Superwash Colonial, American Targhee, Fine South African, Superwash Merino and Superfine Merino 80's
5) Superwash Colonial - ~4-5" staple, soft with medium crimp. This is the first superwash I've every spun, but it didn't seem that different from the other fibers. It was nice to wash something I knew wasn't going to felt in the process. Final wpi = 11, 11 yds/0.5 oz.
6) American Targhee - 4" staple, very crimpy. In the skein, this feels very similar to the Standard merino 64's top that I tried. Which makes me happy because I've got 4 oz of it to spin. Very soft, squishy yarn. 9 wpi, 12 yds/0.5 oz.
7) Fine South African - 4" staple, very crimpy. This was a pleasure to spin. Not quite as puffy as the Targhee after washing, but it has a nice sheen to it. I'd be interested in dying up a bunch of this stuff, and it's got enough definition that I think it might work really well as a three-ply for cables and textures. 10 wpi, 14 yds/0.5 oz.
8) Superwash Merino - 4" staple, crimpy. The other superwash sample. I had some trouble with this one - I think it needed a lot more twist to hold together then I realized initially, so I had a bunch of breaks while spinning and plying. However, once spun, its really nice stuff. 11 wpi, 16 yds/<0.5 oz (I lost some while plying).
9) Superfine Merino 80's - ~3.5" staple, crimpy. This stuff literally spun itself. I just held the fiber in one hand and it flowed into singles all on its own. Amazing. Some of that is certainly that I've gotten better at spinning but this was some beautiful stuff. Final wpi=12, 17 yds/0.5 oz.
Spinning up these samples has been a great way to try out different types of wool. Woodland Woolworks has an exotic fiber sampler too (mmmm...yak! Cashmere!) and a variety pack with a bunch of non-wool fibers, that I'm also looking forward to trying out. For all you new spinners who might be reading: here's a closeup of how your skills can improve in not very much time:
The sample on the right is the first one I spun - the grey Swalesdale - on July 16th. It's underplied and fairly inconsistent. The hank on the left is the superfine Merino which I spun last night. Much nicer stuff (although some of that may have something to do with the fiber too). It is pretty thrilling to see how much I've improved without a huge time investment. My spinning has definitely been somewhat sporadic this summer, but I am getting better. It might even be time to start spinning with a definite project in mind (gulp!).