Friday, June 15, 2007

Shetland Update - Korny

By Leigh

Before I get too involved with my new loom posts, I thought I'd better pop a Shetland update in here.
Washed sample staplesOnce all my samples were washed I started to spin. For no particular reason, I chose the fawn to spin first.

This single coated fleece came from a three year old fawn ewe named Korny. It is the coarsest of the samples that Cathy sent me, but even so it was lovely to spin.

Korny's crimp wasn't exceptionally well defined, but where it could be counted, it averaged about 4 to 6 per inch. Fiber length ranged from 3 to 5 inches.

The sample displayed a lovely range of colors; from cream to light brown to an almost pewter color. And this leads to a question for all you Shetland shepherds. How is an individuals official color determined? There seem to be so many variations that I think it would be a difficult task to decide.

I decided that I would drum card it to blend it. I put it all through my Strauch Petite four times, which blended it to my satisfaction.

Deciding what size yarn to spin took a little research and contemplation. I knew that I wasn't up to trying my hand at spinning for and knitting a Shetland ring shawl, so I pulled out Alice Starmore's The Celtic Collection to see what size yarn she used for her Fair Isle type designs.

Now, this leads to a short aside where I air out a pet peeve of mine regarding knitting books which only designate a particular brand of yarn rather than a standard size of yarn. This information is of no use to handspinners, not to mention that the book becomes obsolete as soon as the yarn is no longer available. However, one day it occurred to me that I could approximate what size yarn I needed from the gauge listed with the pattern. I just need to spin a yarn to match that. In this case, most of the patterns I'm interested in in this book are about 30 to 33 stitches and 32 to 35 rows per four inches on US 2 - 3 knitting needles. A quick look at the nearest yarn catalog (Knit Picks in this case) informs me that this is a fingering weight yarn, which according to this chart, measures about 16 WPI. So how do I figure out what size to spin my singles? I reach for this book......

Mabel Ross is absolutely one of my favorites and I love her books and video. The handy little chart on page 32 tells me that to create a 2 ply yarn of 16 wraps per inch, my singles need to be 27 WPI. I find however, that this is only a ball park estimate and that I still need to sample. Crimp, loft, and elasticity all play a part in the final yarn size, so experimenting is important. In my case, I settled on 28 WPI for a finished 2 ply size of 17 WPI.

My Fawn Shetland handspun yarn. I started out with 2.4 ounces of raw fleece, and after washing out the lanolin and dirt, and picking out anything undesirable (a few short bits and VM), I ended up with 1.3 ounces of lovely yarn. I have almost 73 yards and I really like the color.

For more photos of this lovely fleece and to see how Cathy's been spinning it, click here!

Related Posts:
Measuring Wraps Per Inch (WPI)


Tina T-P said...

I have tried to understand the genetics of Shetland color, but in my limited experience (10 years as the shepherd's wife) - as far as I can tell, the way a Shetland sheep gets its color is anybody's guess. A friend of ours has a ewe who changes color every year - they always have to look for her ear tag after they shear, because they can't find the fawn colored sheep - who is now moorit.

Arlo is now almost completely white with no dark tips, but Scooter and Luna's fleeces were moorit for only a few weeks and now they have turned that pretty fawn grey. Rob, our first ram, got a darker red every year. Go figure...I guess I wasn't much help was I? Tina

Sharon said...

You make this wife of a Shetland shepherd very proud. I have no idea how many wraps I have - I make a sample and just try to make everything look the same so I can get an reasonably even result. Your yarn is absolutely lovely.

Tina T-P said...

That's what I was just going to say, but I forgot - Leigh, I sure am learning alot about spinning by reading your blog - no one ever mentioned samples or WPI - novel concept - In fact, I was devistated with the first two bobbins that I plied, because they just seemed to wrap in on each other, but reading what you said about how the wool needs to rest once it's been plied if it had been on the bobbins for a while - I pulled it out and it doesn't look half bad now that it's had time to sit around for a while
:-) T.

Cathy said...

What beautiful yarn Leigh!

Anonymous said...

That yarn is amazing! Wow, how inspirational ...

Cathy said...

My singles are probably the same size as your 2-ply. I am going to ply mine with silk and possibly Korny's dyed green yarn. A vest is on my mind.

Can't wait to see what you do with Nikki and Sass!

Sheepish Annie said...

I'm spinning my first shetland ever and opted to use my drop spindle rather than the wheel. It is working out rather well, but doesn't really hold a candle to yours! Wow!! That is so pretty and consistently plied. Excellent work!!!

giuseppe said...

Hi there. I see you're a fan of Mabel Ross. Have you seen her other books on handspinning? I am curious how good or how similar "Essentials of Hand Spinning" is to her "Essentials of Yarn design" and encylopaedia of handspinning. I'm hoping to find a book that will show me different visual effects I can create with the yarns and I felt Essentials of Yarn Design was the best...Unfortunately I can't find that book here. If you could give me any suggestions, I'd appreciate that very much :)