Monday, January 07, 2008

A Silver Shetland

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.

A very long Shetland dual coated fleece.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.

Sample yarns on card.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 - 28ยบ
* Weight of yarn - 4.5 ounces
* Yardage - 214.6 yards

The silver color is lovely I think.

Silver Shetland handspun.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.


Jacqui said...

this turned out quite lovely and delicate in appearance. it looks more like 20 WPI than 16 somehow.

aren't the Shetland prezzies from Cathy that absolute dead-on best?

Kathy said...

This looks like what we shetland shepherds would call a "primitive fleece" - the way a fleece would be on the original sheep from the island. Much like an icelandic would be...a long outer coat for weather protection, then soft shorter fibers for inner warmth. We have a couple of sheep with just such a coat. You can either separate the long fibers from the shorter ones, or spin them together. Both are lovely yarns.
I love this silver color. It looks like it has nice luster too.

Cathy said...

I grabbed some from the bag so I'm delighted to see how it looks. I labeled the fleeces and stuffed them into bags last summer after washing them without looking as closely at them. Your posts have been very educational and I am thankful you have taken the time to share the information.

Sharon said...

Your Shetland skeins make me crave to spin it too. I'm in the middle of spinning something else, actually a couple of somethings else, but I'd rather spin Shetland. I just realized that I haven't tried that on a drop spindle. I just learning how to use one. I'll have to see how that goes, hmmmm.

Tracy said...

Looks really good. I'm looking forward to seeing how you're going to use all your shetland. All the colors and your spinning are so nice.

cyndy said...

Really - really beautiful Leigh!!

And I am learning sooo much!

Thank you!

bspinner said...

WOW!!!!! Everyone of those colors are amazing!!!!
Thanks for your comment. Fixed the link for the last posting.

Cathy said...

The friend who knows the sheep owner visited this weekend (to pick up her 33 lbs of roving plus another Shetland fleece I washed for her). I asked B about the frequency of shearing for that flock. They are sheared annually. I have 2 other Shetlands in my stash with equally long fleeces.

Shetland are amazing!

Leigh said...

Ah, thank you for that tidbit Cathy. I agree, Shetlands are truly amazing!