Southdown

I bought a sampler of four different types of wool because I’m feeling very comfortable with merino and BFL, which is the vast majority of my stash, and I wanted to expand my spinning horizons.  I started with the Southdown, with Romney, Border Leicester and Gotland waiting in the wings.  Besides being a different breed, this wool is also my first carded roving; most of my experience up until now has been with combed top.

Some notes.  First, the roving was very light and puffy which is in contrast with the compactness of most commercial top.  That makes a big difference in how it feels to draft, although to be comparing apples to apples, I really should have some of the same wool type in different preps.  Maybe commercially-prepped Southdown feels the same when drafting.

Second, this is the crimpiest wool I’ve ever spun.  That made it harder for me to control the draft, since the crimp made it kind of ‘grabby’ and sometimes a big slub would get pulled into the drafting zone.  But it also meant that I didn’t have to put as much twist into the singles to get them to become cohesive, thus preserving loft.

Third, the color in the fiber is a blend of lighter and darker fibers, and some of the very dark fibers are actually little tightly-wound coils.  Most of those got pulled out when they were drafted, but not all of them did.  I suspect that these noily bits will end up pilling or something, perhaps even adding a little scratchiness.

Fourth, there was a tiny bit of grease left in the fiber.  My hands got noticeably softer while spinning it.  I don’t like lotion, but I did like how that felt.  I think most of it got washed out when I was setting the twist, though.  There was also a bit of vegetable matter, which I tried to pull out as I found it while drafting, but I can still see some in the finished yarn.  Since that will be scratchy, I will probably want to remove as much as I can before knitting anything out of it.

Here’s what the seller wrote about the wool:  One of the softest downs breeds, while still maintaining the incredible loft of other downs breeds. Great loft, good memory, and soft enough for next-to-skin wear. No luster to speak of. From a local shepherd. This is a carded roving.

Yup.

I ended up with a three-ply worsted-weight yarn.  I got about 133 yards out of 2 ounces.

I like the slightly less-finished look to it, which is what I was aiming for.  The idea is that I’ll use this and the Gotland wool (next up to be spun) from the sampler to make a new cap for me.   The Jacob hat is a little bit scratchy, and I’d like something less so—this fits the bill nicely.

Comments (1)

DaveSeptember 12th, 2009 at 2:41 pm

It does look soft and lofty — nicely done! Thanks for the review. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of the others. I recently tried Falkland for the first time, and quite liked it. I’m working on some Corriedale right now; jury’s sitll out on that one. :-)

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