Thursday, September 29, 2016

Socktacular Experiment

A while back (several months) I ordered a batch of "medium wool" single-breed rovings from a mill in Carstairs, Alberta. This isn't exactly a local mill - Carstairs is about 1000km away from me - but I thought I'd give Canadian sheep a try.

I was able to get a taster pack of 7 different breeds (all wool comes from SK, AB, and BC). The prep is carded ropes, not pindrafted. All the wool is white and I got 2oz (ie. 50g) of each - which is enough for a single sock. Heheheh...yep, I'm going to make 7 single socks, same spinning, plying, and knitting for each, embroidered with an ID marker, and then I'm gonna mix and match while wearing them. Ha. That should sort out the best breed, don't you think???

[taster pack of sock breeds]

[breed number 1 on the wheel]

The breeds I got are: texel, romney, dorset, cotswold, suffolk, clun forest, and southdown. As I said, all from Canadian sheep, and none of them bred for their fiber. Canadian sheep are mostly meat sheep, especially in commercial flocks (of which there are only few, Canada's not a big sheep country - too many predators). The mill I bought from is profit-driven and not a hobby or co-op operation, so they buy cheap fiber in bulk. They are not in the business of buying single fleeces from hobbyists.  The only trouble with buying roving from this mill is that the shipping is extremely expensive - thank you Canada Post. That means I won't be doing a lot of it. 

Anyways, I thought this might be a fun thing to try. Spinzilla is coming and this is going to be my project - see if I can get through a bunch of this roving. I've started on the Texel and it is a very different spinning experience from all the commercially combed prep I've been using - it's got a few blebs so takes some attention, but it's possible to spin fine, wooly singles. Man, are they wriggly! The Texel is extremely springy. I'm keen to compare the Canadian southdown with the stuff I've used from the UK. Also I 'm curious to see how the Romney fares, as that's my current favorite!

I'm aiming for 4-ply socks. We'll see if I'm able to do that - lately I've been slipping to 3-ply as I'm finding that the knitting makes a huge difference (as in: very tight gauge knitting can compensate for the lack of the 4th ply).

[ Texel single with commercial sock yarn as comparison]

I'll keep you all posted with how these spin. It'll be some time (as in, months!) before I can make any conclusions about how the socks wear...

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