Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I had a nice surprise on Monday—my order from the Spinning Loft arrived, complete with two braids of Spunky Eclectic's long colour-change Romney wool:

Forecast starts out silvery grey, shifts gradually into a dreamy aqua, then turns into something between khaki and green. I want to take full advantage of the extremely long colour changes, so I simply split the braid once lengthwise, weighing each half. With only a couple of grams' difference between the two, I'm keeping fingers crossed that I'll be able to spin consistent plies, and they'll stand a reasonable chance of matching up. (If not...well, a little uncertainty is good for the soul, I always say.)
I spun up the first half yesterday and this morning, and I'll get to the second half tonight, all other things being equal and the stars in alignment. I'm finding the Romney easy enough to spin, but whoa! is it different from the finewools I've grown used to!

According to Clara Parkes' excellent resource, The Knitter's Book of Wool, Romneys are a dual-purpose longwool, and their fleece really packs a punch, at 32 to 39 microns per fibre: compare this to the 17 to 22 microns found in yer standard Merino, and you can see that the Romney is positively hair-like in consistency.

That's fine with me; I think it's all too easy to become accustomed to the softer, less hardy finewools, thus neglecting some of the tougher breeds that really do have a lot to offer.

For instance, right now I'm wearing the shawl I knit last summer, using handspun, hand-dyed wool of unknown provenance that I picked up at a farmer's market on Pender Island. You wouldn't call this wool soft, by any stretch; and yet, it's warmer and more draft-resistant than some of the fluffier, "prettier" pieces I've made.

Oh, while we're on the topic of spinning: I have been thinking about all the various spinning challenges and resolutions flying about the blogosphere lately, and I have a question for the more experienced spinners out there: is it completely bonkers of me to consider making a sweater out of yarn spun on my drop spindle? And how much fleece do you think that might take? All best guesses accepted.


Mary Keenan said...

I am so with you about the value of non-fine wools. Last summer I thrifted a scratchy cardi to felt but kinda fell for the shade (a brown that looks well with exactly one thing I own) and the fact that it fit me, and it's now my go-to sweater almost all of the time. I can even stand it over a short-sleeved T; it's not softer than when I bought it, but I love the way I'm never too hot or too cold in it.

Kathleen Taylor said...

Romney is my favorite wool to spin. It's hardy and sturdy, and socks knit from Romney will wear like iron. And Romney can have a truly beautiful sheen. It's not soft though, and it's hardly ever next-to-skin yarn.

How much fiber you'll need for a handspun sweater depends entirely on how you spin the yarn- my yarns are always dense, so my handspun sweaters weigh enough to keep me warm at -20F. If you can spin light and lofty, you can get by with a lot less.

What I would suggest is spinning a lot of little bits and pieces and doing random stripes (or mitered squares). Well, that's what I would do because spinning a full sweater's worth of a single color would drive me bonkers.

Karen said...

Hmm...that is a very interesting idea, Kathi. I will consider it carefully. Thanks!