I have been working on the Karakul sample for my rare breed sweater.
I bought the fleece at a SAFF fleece show a couple of years ago. I got it because it was a rare breed and chose this particular fleece for its color (thinking to use a variety of both breed and color in my sweater.) Karakul sheep are predominantly, black; so the light reddish color of this particular fleece is a little unusual for the breed.
This particular fleece was a show fleece and so quite clean. It had virtually no VM nor second cuts. It had been pretty well jumbled up by the time I got it, I presume from being handled by the judges.
Karakul is actually a dual coated breed. The fleece is quite open, so it was easy to separate the inner and outer coats. By firmly holding onto the tip of the lock, I used a dog comb to pull out the softer inner coat from the butt end of the staple.
This bit was taken from the sample I washed:
The little pile on the right is of reddish kempy fibers which are the shortest and the prickliest.
For my first sample however, I decided to wash a handful and then blend the two coats with my drum carder. Since it is a pretty coarse fiber, I thought I would spin it with as little twist as possible to make it more suitable for knitting.
I accomplished this by spinning with the worsted method and using the lowest ratio my Ashford Traditional offered. I drafted out about two inches for each treadle, resulting in less twist than I usually put in a knitting yarn.
You can see the difference of the twist angle in these two yarns.
The one on the right is some Ryeland spun a couple of years ago. It will be used for most of the sweater. On the right is the Karakul I just spun. Both yarns measure 10 wraps per inch.
My finished skein looks like this:
Before I decide to use this skein for the sheep motif of my sweater, I'd like to experiment a bit more. Since I have an entire 3 pound fleece, I have plenty to play with. I'll be curious to see how a few more yarn samples compare with this one. After that I'll choose one to actually use in the sweater.
Winter Knitting Project
Rare Breed Sweater Swatches
TA-DAH! Rare Breed Sweater Done!