Another experiment with long wools

Another experiment with long wools

There is an innovative indie-dyer who to supplements my addiction from time to time. She has access to some lovely long wools such as Teeswater and Masham, great blends, and exotics that don’t come my way very often. She is superlative at using colour and just great fun in her experimentation. This past winter I decided to take the plunge and buy some of her less expensive offerings of a mixed bag of long wools. These bags can have any kind of breed. They generally are a little felted or cotted but not impossible to work with for spinning.

Because the locks were slightly felted I decided to use small dog combs as flick carders to open the wool. That was a surprise! A lock that was five inches long ended up 14 or more inches after being carded. The dog combs are very fine and do a good job on the locks if used gently.

The colours in the grab bag were mouth watering and spoke of spring.

Each lock was kept separate and spun individually. The singles were plied using the chain ply method to let the colours remain in blocks.

The bag was primarily long wool, but had a great variety of lengths, so I think it was more a grab bag of breeds.

The residual wool caught in the carders was short and had some neps. This was carded as for wool spinning, some was run through wool combs to see if that would yield any decent results, but the wastage was very high, so I gave up on that as a processing method and went back to using carders.

The wool caught in the dog combs was slightly blended and the colours were muted.
The dog combs pulled out short bits and neps that will add texture to this woollen spin.








I haven’t spun the wool waste yet, but it should be fairly quick to do and easy to finish if I do long draw.  The colours will be more heather than the crisp colours that I’m trying to maintain by carding the individual locks, but they will have a muted heather look and will be attractive in their own way.

Each lock was spun individually into singles, which were then cable plied as a three ply.  This is the only way I know to protect the individuality of the colours.

Singles of different “long wool”

The final result is interesting, but a little bit “all over the place” and frankly a little disappointing. It had no clear purpose, no underlying colour theme, no direction and it shows.  If this is used in weaving I will use a monochrome warp and complimentary weft to help pull it together and make one or two specific colours pop.  Right now, none of the colours really stand out.  The yarn itself is actually surprisingly soft for long wool.  It’s lusterous, silky and smooth.

Three ply cable yarn that is lustrous and surprisingly soft.

I’ll keep trying different kinds of long wool, I enjoy them, but I think I’ll try finding my own fleece supplier if possible and see what I can do with my own cleaning and dyeing. I need to find out what the fleece are like right from the animal.  So the learning curve continues.

10 thoughts on “Another experiment with long wools

  1. What an interesting post. I think that your use of the chain (Navaho) ply method is indeed the only way to keep the colours separate and looks way better than an ordinary ply from 2 or more bobbins which would give you the barber pole effect.
    I look forward to hearing more about your foray into long wools.
    You (almost) make me want to get my spinning wheel down out of the loft and get back into spinning. Once felting really took me over, (about 20 years ago) I stopped spinning almost completely, but I couldn’t bring myself to sell on my wheel, so maybe one day….

    1. Thank you Ann, everyone has their addiction and at least fiber is only marginally more expensive than heroin and much, much more entertaining. Spinning, for me, is the most relaxing thing I can do, for others it is knitting or felting or weaving. What is it about fiber that is so pleasant?

  2. In answer to your question – Fiber is Fab – what’s not to love? The photo at the top is eye candy!

    Your yarn is gorgeous and we’d love to see what you make with it.

    1. Yep, no arguments from me that fiber is wonderful. I was so pleased with the introduction photo, I think I might use it for business cards once it’s been cropped. I’m still trying to figure out the base colour and the accent colour to use, but I think a green and maybe turquoise are in the cards.

    1. Thank you Ann, I appreciate the compliment. I would love to have a dyeing day. I have a couple of hot plates and soup pots ready to go, just waiting for second shots now.

  3. Seeing your grab bag I’d be suffering from addiction too….the colours are gorgeous & you’ve managed to produce some interesting yarn.
    Looking forward to seeing what you do with it.

    Reading your post was like hearing pigeon English….I understood the words but not the meaning….spinning is a whole other language

    1. Oh no! What do I do? Do you want me to explain spinning in more detail or just leave well enough alone? I hate when I don’t understand a post, but still love the pictures, is that good enough for now?

  4. Lovely colors! I don’t understand the language of spinning either but that’s okay. We enjoy looking at the photos and the gorgeous fiber.

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