Last night I finished spinning and washing my yarn from this lovely silver Shetland fleece from Cathy. This one is different from any of the other Shetlands I've worked with so far, due to the length of the staples.
The staple length for the sample Cathy sent ranged anywhere from 4 to 11 inches! She had labeled it "... from Martha. Lamb or yearling." Too long to be lamb, I did a little research to find out the average growth of Shetland fleece in a year. According to Fournier and Fournier's In Sheep's Clothing, a Shetland fleece ranges from 2 to 5 inches in length. That would mean that this particular sheep missed a shearing! [Update 1/14/08 - Cathy was able to find out about this. This was from an annual shearing, so it is only one year's growth! And this isn't the only fleece she has like this.]
The fleece was wavy rather than crimpy, with waves varying between one and three per inch. It was dual coated, and the undercoat was lusciously soft. I was tempted to separate the two coats and just spin that inner coat. However, impatience won the day so that I decided to spin the two coats together. The Shetland dual coated fleeces I've worked with have had coarser outer coats, but still not so coarse as other dual coated breeds. And not so coarse as to make them undesirable for knitwear.
The color ranged from white to medium grey, with black fibers scattered throughout. These black fibers were the other factor effecting softness, as they tended to be coarser. I decided to drum card it to blend the color. Due to the fiber length, I cut the staples longer than 8 inches in half.
The spinning particulars:
* Wheel - Kromski Minstrel double drive
* Ratio - 8.5 to 1
* Spinning style - worsted
* Singles - 28 WPI
* 2-ply - 16 WPI
* Plied twist angle - 28º
* Weight of yarn - 4.5 ounces
* Yardage - 214.6 yards
The silver color is lovely I think.
Next time, I'll get out all my Shetland yarns so we can take a look at the various colors. In the meantime, I'm going to start swatching and looking at patterns.