Module 2 Experiment with Fibers
Half of the fun of spinning is finally having a reason to not only have a fiber stash but to start working through it. Through out history mankind had been spinning different fibers both plant and animal into yarn, and twine to make tools, clothing and pretty much all of the necessities of life. When you pick up these tools I want you to stop and think about how this simple action ties you to so many people from so many places and times before you. In my experience it is not just a practical necessity but also a meditative act.
Merino wool is probably one of the most popular types of wool for spinning. Most of the dyed braids you will find are at least a blend of Merino. They are very soft like cotton which most people love for next to the skin knits. They have a shorter crimpy fiber which is normally processed into long top roving strips. I think they are great for learning to spin because you can do lots of pre drafting which makes for more even yarn when starting out. If you're spinning by feel this would be great for a soft fluffy yarn, it's versatile and can be great thick and thin. I feel that this normally lends itself to a nice dense yarn. I normally spin this in more of a worsted style which I feel works well with the shorter fibers.
Blue Faced Leicester Sheep
Pronounced "Lester" and referred to as BFL sheep for short this is one of my favorite wools to spin with. They are known as a long coat sheep meaning they have lovely long fibers more like hair than wool I think. This makes the wool great for spinning thinner yarn and it even has a natural built in luster to it which I think looks nice either natural or dyed. My favorite source for BFL is of course Barnyard Blue found on CHY. I prefer spinning this in a thinner woolen style, spun more from small handfuls of fiber instead of traditional pre-drafting.
This has quickly become one of my favorite wools to spin with and I think it's great for learning. The Sheep is historically from new Zealand and Australia and were a cross between the leicester and merino breeds. I think that is a perfect description of their wool too! They have longer more slippery fibers than a Merino but not as long and a bit softer than a traditional BFL. I use this wool for all sorts of projects. I love spinning this fiber in more of a woolen long draw technique that makes for nice warm yarn and lovely color blends.
Alpacas are some of the funniest creatures I've ever met. They seem very smart and have huge eyes and always seem to be in the middle of what's going on. I also LOVE spinning with their fiber. It is considered one of the most luxe fibers out there. It's great for all types of weather because it's very light weight, it's fibers also have tiny air pockets which will trap heat in the winter and keep you cool in the warmer months. It also manages to be very soft and silky while strong at the same time. Alpaca does have shorter fiber lengths so it will make a fluffy yarn. I like useing a worsted spinning techique while spinning.
Angora Rabbit Fiber
Definetly a luxury fiber, Angora is probably the softest fiber I can think of. It's very silk and light weight. It has nice long fiber lengths it can be spun alone or blended in with other fibers. It is of course important to make sure you get angora fiber from a human source where it is gathered in a slow and loveing way. ( by carefully brushing them and collecting the extra hair. My preferred source is of Tail spin farms found on CHY
A natural plant fiber this is truly an ancient fiber. Used extensively by the ancient Egyptians and primitive people and was also very popular with the american colonist. Flax is the fiber that linen is made from and when it is cut and clean resembles blond hair. It boast being lightweight, easy to clean and strong. Normally spins up a fine thiner yarn. Flax lacks the natural "springy quality" that wool has. This will give any yarn made from flax a more draping affect. It will not have as much stretch or as much give an a wool yarn. This type of yarn is great for when you want a light weight yarn with a nice drape like a summer wrap.
Being from the south cotton will always have a nostalgic quality for me. If you've ever handled raw cotton you will be surprised how hard it can be to remove the seeds in the middle. The invention of the cotton gin must have truly been a game changer. You can also hand spin cotton from around the seeds with a drop spindle with some practice and lots of patience. I probably don't need to tell you why cottons is so great, it's truly one of the most versatile soft traditional fibers out there. Cotton has a shorter fiber length so you'd want to use a quick rotation and short worsted spinning. Cotton also has more of a drape than a springy quality, similar to a yarn or project you would make with flax. Keep this in mind when planning your dream summer yarns.