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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.