Hello all! I am just beginning to learn the ins and outs of wool yarn. A little background:
I have been a knitter for 10+ years, only basic projects(scarves and hats). We have started raising sheep and it has gotten me very excited and interested in wool! We are replacing our flock and plan on purchasing Tunis sheep this spring. We fell in love with some Tunis crosses we purchesed a few years ago. Their carcass size, temperament, mothering, and foraging was as good or greater then the hair sheep we had. Our goal is based on raising them for meat, but I am excited to play with the wool and learn about ways to also make a little income off it as well.
So here is my question. I purchased some “lopi” style Tunis wool last year and LOVED it! It was thick, fluffy, slightly uneven. I thought it made such an interesting texture and look when knitted. I have some raw Tunis fleece, carders, and a drop spindle. Is there any videos, tutorials, etc that someone can direct me to so I can teach myself how to make that same style? The photo attached is the scarf I knitted with said yarn.
My (admittedly, very limited) experience with the drop spindle, is that experience is everything. As you do it, you learn how to feel what you're spinning, as you're spinning it. I'm sure there are tons of tricks that I don't know about, but other than paying attention to how much and how fast you're feeding the spindle, it seems to mostly be 'feel your way'.
The only thing...more expensive than education is ignorance.~Ben Franklin
I am just starting to work with wool so my knowledge is very limited. I thought Tunis were more fine wooled sheep and Lopi was from duel coated sheep where the Tog (longer coarser outer wool) was spun together with the Thel (shorter soft wool) like Icelandic’s (more primitive sheep)have.
There is a very interesting podcast with a lady that raises Tunis at Ballyhoofiberemporiam.com.
Tunis sound like awesome sheep. Love your work!
There's loads of spinning videos online, but most of it is just in the doing of it. It's not like they won't be out there growing more wool while you're figuring out what to do with the fleece they gave you last year. Wool is a very sustainable thing, if it's your own sheep, it can almost be overwhelming if you have more sheep than time to spin.
There's several ways to spin yarn. You can wash the fiber and then spin it or spin it raw and then wash the yarn afterwards. Being lazy, I usually opt for method #2.
What I've found to work with fleeces, especially the bigger ones, is to not try to do the whole thing all at once. Test out what you think will be the best way to process it and if it works well with a little bit, then grab a bigger handful next.
If it were me, to make yarn with a washed fleece, grab a big handful two or three of fleece. Try pushing it down into hot water that has shampoo or a mild soap of some sort. Don't agitate the fiber since heat and agitation can felt the fiber. Pour the water off, take the fleece out, refill the pot, add the soap, mix it into the water, add the fleece, let it soak, then pour the dirty water off. I usually can't resist poking it at least a little bit, but not much agitation because of the possibility of felting. A salad spinner is useful for getting the water out of the wool.
Then, lay it flat, let it dry and then spin it into yarn. You can either card it at this point or spin it as a cloud of fiber. It shouldbe nice and loose fiber before it's spun or locks that can be pulled apart fairly easily.
To spin yarn, get a spindle or wheel or whatever tool you're going to use to get the spin into the fiber. Usually there will be a leader string attached to it somewhere. Get a handful of your fiber and attach it to the leader. Some folks like to spin the fiber onto the end of the leader. I'll usually make a loop in the end of the leader and fold a bit of the fiber into the loop. Whatever works for you. After there's an attachment between the loop and the fiber, get some spin going into the leader, then pull the fibers out from the fiber in your hand in the quantity that you want them to be in your yarn. Actually, in one single strand of your yarn, most times yarn is made up of several spun strands, which most folks call 'singles'. Anyway, pull out some of the fibers, let the spin travel from the leader into the fiber pulled out. Wind up the leader, as much as the length of yarn singles that was created when the spin went into the fibers. Put more spin into the leader, let it into the fibers pulled out from the bundle of fibers. Keep repeating that until you have filled up your spinning tool (spindle or bobbin on a wheel).
There are several different ways to get the spin into the fiber, but this one is a fairly easy starting point. Find which ever way works best for you. Then do it again with another bobbin or spindle full.
Once you have two spindle fulls or bobbin fulls of singles - and this is the important part that makes it into yarn - spin the two singles together spinning them the opposite way from when they were spun. If you were spinning your tool clocks wise when creating the singles, then spin it counter clockwise when making the singles into yarn.
It's always nice if the yarn is 'balanced', to where as many twists were put into the 'plying' (spinning the singles together) as went into making the singles. That will result in a yarn that will lay nicely flat and not twist up on it's self when done. Most of this just takes doing it. Save your first yarn, it will be an interesting creation that will be hard to duplicate when you've had more practice and get a smoother yarn.
Then, wash the yarn, a lot like how the raw fiber is washed. This will set the twist of the yarn as well as clean it if you started with raw fiber.