You might be wondering when I’m going to get around to actually making something from my Fibreshed. That’s fair enough! I have been working away on something, but my ideas have taken time to bring together.
I wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere without my friend Wil, who is a wonderful spinner. I’m excited to show you my first Fibreshed yarn, spun by Wil. Read further to find out from him what went into making this blended yarn.
In the middle of last year, Rachel approached me with a spinning challenge. We had just gone to the Bendigo Sheep and Wool show, and she had bought with her some wool from a couple of rare sheep breeds: Shropshire (from Marilyn Mangione of Clarendon Stud) and Gotland (from Cheryl Crosbie of Granite Haven). She had a view to make a blend out of these fibres into a yarn that would be suitable to knit up into socks. Despite not having worked with these before, I was up for a challenge and happily agreed to spin it up for her.
And what a challenge it was. The two fibres couldn’t be more different: the Shropshire roving was short-stapled and springy, while the Gotland had a longer staple and had a softer handle. We hoped that the combination of these characteristics would exhibit themselves in the resulting yarn — one that was elastic, hard-wearing but also soft enough to wear close to the skin. Rachel already had the proportion of each type of wool in mind after conversations she had with the sheep farmers, and as such, my task was to figure out the best way to prepare the blend and spin it.
I decided to do a sample on some handcarders, which blended quite nicely. So far, so good.
After a few false starts, I decided to try a different approach. I made rolags.
In planning this spinning project, I wanted to spin the blend as thinly as possible as I intended to chain-ply the single after it was spun. As Rachel intended this yarn for a sock project, I wanted to get the plied yarn as close to a weight approximating a commercially bought sock yarn.
Shropshire has a springy character, and has a tendency to puff out if spun thinly. I found the spinning the blend as rolags seemed to minimise this without compromising the yarn’s elasticity.
Here’s a plied sample.
After a while, I managed to spin up all the fibre, which turned into a handsome, plied yarn:
And here it is skeined up and ready for knitting.
All in all, I found this to be an interesting exercise which allowed me to work within the unique characteristics of two different sheep breeds to produce a yarn for a specific purpose.