Just under 2 years ago when I bought my spinning wheel I decided I wanted to embark upon a sheep breed spinning study. Up until then I had mainly spun merino on my spindle with the odd foray into unspecified British long wools but I wanted to expand my horizons and find out what I had been missing. A major help with this was that I got a voucher for £15 to spend on fibre when I bought my wheel, since then I have added a few different fibres here and there.
To date I have spun fibre from 10 different breeds of sheep (well it’s actually 14 as I’ve spun Wenselydale, Teeswater, Blue Faced Leicester and Merino on top of the breeds listed here but they were dyed fibre rather than undyed so I am not counting them here).
Here are the fibres I have tried so far;
Brown North Ronaldsay
White North Ronaldsay
All the fibres were spun on my Ashford Kiwi 2 spinning wheel from commercially prepared combed top (except the North Ronaldsay samples which were spun from sliver) and spun using a short forward draw technique (except the Jacob humbug which was spun over the fold).
Based on the ease with which they spun up and how happy I was with the finished yarn I would rank them in the following order with 1 being my most favourite and 10 being my least (or in the case of this particular fibre – I hate it and never ever want to have it anywhere near my spinning wheel again).
- Brown North Ronaldsay
- Jacob humbug
- White North Ronaldsay
- Shetland humbug
- Manx Loughtan
I loved the Gotland fibre so much that I have a sweater worth of fibre to spin when I get the chance. The fibre that surprised me the most was the Texel as it was actually quite nice to work with despite coming from what in the UK at least is primarily a meat sheep. The Manx Loughtan on the other hand was just horrendous from start to finish, I’m prepared to admit that my choice of spinning style or the preparation may have influenced this and it might be a better yarn/ experience if prepared or spun in a different way but I have no desire to find out.
I still have quite a few fibre samples to work though (and I have asked for another 6 for my birthday next week) but it is a journey of discovery that I am thoroughly enjoying, I just need to work out what I am going to make with them all now that I have spun them up.
All fibres were sourced from either Wingham Wool Work or Adelaide Walker except the North Ronaldsay fibre which was a gift from my brother in Orkney.