Friday, August 03, 2007

Shetland Update - Henna

A moorit dual coated Shetland fleece.Henna's is the fifth of the seven Shetland fleece samples Cathy sent me (not counting this.). Working with samples instead of whole fleeces has been wonderful because each sample makes a fairly quick project, easy to accomplish in only a couple of sessions. One day to wash and dry. A couple of hours on another day to drum card it all to blend the colors. Then spinning and plying on the afternoon of another day.

Henna's is a moorit fleece with tips sunbleached to a lovely honey color. In looking back through my Shetland notes, I can tell you that this is the longest fleece of all the samples, measuring up to seven inches in length. There is crimp in part of the sample, about five per inch. The tips were wavy at two per inch. It was a very clean sample, with very little VM. There were very few second cuts and the tips were sound.

Samples of Henna's fleece.What is interesting about this fleece is that it is dual coated. You get a hint of this by the triangular shaped staples. The downy undercoat fills out the base of the triangle, while the long outer coat tapers to its point.

Dual coated fleeces are usually pretty easy to separate by hand. I simply hold the tip firmly in one hand and comb out the undercoat with a dog comb. A flicker works too, but I tend to bust my knuckles every time I use one, so I usually avoid it if possible. Below you can see the two coats separated, with the outer coat on the right, and the inner coat on the left.

Dual coats separated.One thing that really impressed me with this fleece was how soft the outer coat is. I've worked with several dual coated breeds before: Icelandic, Navajo-Churro, Hebridean, and North Ronaldsay. Each of these has a coarse outer coat which is long and can be spun into a nice, hard wearing rug yarn, while the inner coats are much softer and suitable for sweaters and mittens and things. With Henna's fleece however, the outer coat was soft enough that I decided to drumcard the two coats together.

Moorit Shetland yarn.My singles were 30 wraps per inch, about the same size as several of my other Shetland yarns. However, even though there wasn't a lot of crimp in the sample, the 2-ply washed up to be 13 wraps per inch, a little larger than my target size. Crimpier fibers seems to result in more elastic yarns, but that wasn't the case here. I'm guessing that the finer inner coat increased the loft of the yarn more than I anticipated.

I ended up with a little over 78 yards of yarn. It has less luster than my other Shetland yarns, but I love the color.

This very nice close-up, by the way, is courtesy of Xsane, my Linux scanner software. I'm beginning to think that this particular program has a mind of its own, because I am very inconsistent with the size of my scans. Or perhaps I'm just not clever enough to figure it out. Of course, I could always read the online manual and follow the instructions, but who wants to do that. I'd rather spend my time playing with fiber.


Sharon said...

Oh Leigh, Shetlands are such little guys. I see a couple in your future. They don't take up any more space than dogs. I think they are the perfect sheep. And such a variety in each animal's wool. Our white boy produces the most lovely primitive double-coated fleece with a halo almost like mohair, and our brownie grows a single coat of lovely crimp. They're such funny characters, but they do eat a lot of hay.

Sheepish Annie said...

Henna... what a perfect name! I've been really enjoying learning more about shetland wool this summer and having the chance to play with some of the fiber. I'm cleaning a lamb fleece right now and am just amazed at how soft it is. Thanks for all the info!

Anonymous said...

You can't beat Shetlands for coat variation. That was a lovely one, especially with those lighter tones interspersed throughout. How many rinses did it take to scour it clean, btw? It looked fairly clean and easy to tease, but some Shhetlands are oilier than others.

Lucky lucky girl :)

Leigh said...

Sharon, I desperately want some Shetlands! Of course, not as desperately as a few acres to keep them on :)

Annie, I'll look forward to what you think about this lovely fiber.

Taryl, This sample was fairly easy to clean. I used 2 hot, hot soapy (Dawn) soaks and 3 hot rinses, the 2nd with vinegar. Interesting that the grease varies a lot within the breed. I become more fascinated with them as my experience grows.

Cathy said...

I do love your posts about the Shetland samples. It makes my fingers itch to get back to them... but the Dorset is staying firmly on my main wheel and on my mind.

Laritza said...

How pretty!
Makes me want to dig my Shetland fleeces out and comb on forever!

Leigh said...

Wow, I hadn't thought about combing. Hmmm. Maybe that 2nd batch that Cathy sent.

Jasmine Weaver said...


Every time I see your handspun yarns, I think about trying spinning again. As we all know there is only so much time and I guess I will leave the spinning up to hubbie.

Also your zigzag afghans are beautiful. I am also intrigued by weaves that look one way on the top side and another way on the bottom.

Linda in Alberta

Sharon said...

I'm just glad you're back to spinning. You were cranking out woven articles like there was no tomorrow and mine is still on the loom, in progress and unfinished. I was feeling quite inadequate!

Tina T-P said...

Well done, Leigh - reading your blog is always a great learning experience - better than some classes I've taken - Thanks for the info! Hugs to the fur kids - T.

bspinner said...

Yarn is beautiful! What do you plan to make with it?