Cheviot #14

This is a gorgeous black Cheviot lamb fleece.  The tips are show slight weathering and some milk tips.  The crimp is stunning and soft and the fleece is pretty clean with very light VM.

It is a lamb fleece though so the staple length is shorter than I might prefer, but not unreasonable.  This would card beautifully into warm fluffy woolen yarns.

Ave staple 2.5″

Price is per ounce with a 4 oz minimum

Border Cheviot

Border Cheviot

The Border Cheviot originated as a mountain breed, native to the Cheviot Hills between Scotland and England, where the climate is harsh and the conditions are rugged. Cheviots are extremely hardy and can withstand harsh winters and graze well over hilly pastures. They were bred to look after themselves. Recognized as early as 1372, the breed is reported to have developed from sheep that swam ashore from shipwrecked Spanish ships that fled northward after the defeat of the Armada.

The Cheviot is a distinctive white-faced sheep, with a wool-free face and legs, pricked ears, black muzzle and black feet. It is a very alert, active sheep, with a stylish, lively carriage. Cheviot wool has a distinctive helical crimp, which gives it that highly desirable resilience.

Breed category: meat, hill

Distribution: United Kingdom, Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand

Wool

Cheviot wool has a distinctive helical crimp, which gives it that highly desirable resilience. Cheviots produce generous fleeces of white wool which is preferred by mills because its fineness, crimp, and length of staple give it superior spinning and combing qualities, and its low grease content causes less shrinkage in scouring.  The fleece is usually from four to five inches in length.  Rams will normally shear 9 to 13 lbs., and the ewe will produce fleeces of 8 to 10 lbs. Micron count is often between 27-30 but can range from 27-33.

Cheviot #10

Cheviot Fleece #10

Lots of VM and some weathered tips. Nice locks with good color. Average staple length 4″

Price is per ounce. 4 ounce minimum purchase.

Cheviot #9

Cheviot Fleece #9

Extremely dirty tips in some places. Mild VM. The fleece is otherwise quite nice and clean and white. Good crimp.

Average staple length 3″

Price is per ounce. 4 ounce minimum purchase.

Badger Faced Welsh Mountain (Torwen) #2

Torwen fleece

Black fleece with white markings, I do love me some Badger Faced.  If you like Cheviot or Black Welsh Mountain, try this.  It has great texture, is fairly clean with moderate VM, some lanolin globs and dandruff that shakes out, and some weathered tips.  It is kempy but that’s normal.  There may be ome second cuts.  Great blocky dense locks.  As is typical with black fleeces of this type it is shorter than its white counterpart – and lends itself to more woolen and carded preparations.

Ave staple 2-3″

Price is for 1 oz, minimum 4 oz

Badger Faced Welsh Mountain (Torddu) #4

Badger Faced Welsh Torddu

This is a white fleece with black markings – very down-like disorganized lock with some kemp.  It’s greasy but reasonably clean and is a lot of fun to work with.  For those unfamiliar with Badger Face Welsh Mountain, it feels like shaggy Cheviot.  I just love it.

Ave staple 4″

price is by the ounce, minimum 4 oz

Perendale #6

Perendale fleece

Perendale were developed as dual purpose meat and fiber sheep in a cross between Romney and Cheviot, and I think this one shows a bit more of its meaty Cheviot origins.  It has that lovely tight Romney crimp, and the Cheviot loft.  It is a bit dirty with moderate VM, but it will shake and process out nicely.  An all around enjoyable fleece to work with and use for a wide variety of projects.

Ave staple 4″

Wensleydale

The Wensleydale is a large longwool sheep with a distinctive deep blue head, ears and legs. The breed originated in North Yorkshire, England during the 19th century and was developed primarily to provide rams for crossing onto the hill ewe. The breed’s greatest attribute is the quality and quantity of curly wool each sheep produces.

Wool from the Wensleydale is acknowledged as the finest lustre long wool in the world. The fleece from a purebred sheep is considered kemp free. The breed is widespread throughout the United Kingdom, with some small flocks in Holland, France, and Denmark. A “breeding up” program is developing in the USA, using Wensleydale ram sperm in English Leicester, Lincoln, and Cotswold ewes and their female progeny.

Breed categories: long wool, dual-purpose

Distribution: United Kingdom, Europe, North America

Wensleydale History

The mating of a Dishley Leicester ram with a Teeswater ewe in 1838 produced the famous ram ‘Blue Cap’ who was the founding sire of the Wensleydale breed. He was a striking ram, with blue pigmentation on his head and ears that is now the hallmark of the breed, great size (203 kg as a two-shear) and wool of distinctive quality. The modern Wensleydale has inherited these qualities. It is a large sheep with long-stapled, lustrous wool that falls in long ringlets almost to ground level in unshorn sheep. The breed has a quality known as ‘central checking’ that prevents the formation of kemp in the fleece.

The Wensleydale is a very large longwool sheep, described by the British Meat and Livestock Commission as “probably the heaviest of all our indigenous breeds.” It is a visually striking sheep with considerable presence. It has a bold and alert carriage which is accentuated by its broad, level back and heavy muscling in the hindquarters. It has a distinctive deep blue head and ears, which should be clean except for a well developed forelock of wool. Both sexes are polled.

The Wensleydale breed was developed to provide rams for crossing onto hill ewes, mainly Swaledale, Blackface, Rough Fell, Cheviot & Dalesbred. The female crossbreeds develop into prolific, heavy-milking, hardy breeding ewes while the wethers, under natural conditions and on marginal ground, provide quality carcasses at higher weight, with no excess fat.

Today the breed is established throughout the United Kingdom and extends into mainland Europe.

Characteristic Points of Wensleydale Longwool Sheep

Wool: Bright and lustrous. Staple of medium breadth and excellent length; each staple curled or purled out to the end. Of equal staple all over the back and sides from shoulder to breech. The whole free and open and free from mistiness on the back. The belly and scrotum should be covered with wool and be free from hair. Regarding a black spot on a white animal or a white spot on a colored animal: any registered animal, at one year of age, shall not have more than one spot within the wooled area of the body and that spot shall not exceed 2.5 cm (approximate size of a quarter).

Head:  Broad at the muzzle especially in rams. Back of head flat and wide between ears. The face seen in profile should show good depth of jaw. Ears of good size, neatly set on and well carried. Head and ears of a deep blue tinge which often extends to the rest of the body. Tuft of wool on the forehead. Back of head, especially around the ears, covered with fine wool. Entire absence of hair about the forehead, back of head and ears. Any registered animal, at one year of age, shall not have a scur or horn over 3/4 in length, and such scurs or horns on breeding rams should be discouraged.

Neck:  Strong, rising gracefully from the shoulders and carrying the head at a good height.

Shoulders:Well laid back into the crop, which should be wide and full.

Chest:  Coming well down and forward between the forelegs, wide on the floor of the chest. Ribs well sprung.

Back, Loins, Sides and Quarters – Great length of side, loins broad and well covered with firm flesh along the back. Hindquarters long, square and well fleshed. Root of tail broad.

Thighs, Legs and Feet – Thighs well down into the hocks, large and broad behind. Legs with plenty of bone, free of coarse or pigmented hair, straight set on at each corner and well apart. Hind legs with nice covering of fine wool from hock to hoof. Feet moderately large and well shaped.

Statistics

Mature weight:
Rams – 300 lbs.
Ewes – 250lbs.

Average prolificacy:
Yearling ewe – 200%
Mature ewes – 250%

Twin lambs will average 13 pounds each at birth with a growth rate that enables ram lambs to reach 160 lbs. at 21 weeks.

Average lamb weight at 8 weeks:
Singles – 57 lbs.
Twins – 48 lbs.

Wensleydale wool is the finest and most valuable luster longwool in the world.

Micron count 33-35
Staple length 8-12 inches
Yearling Fleece Weight 13-20 pounds

Fleeces are entirely kemp free as a result of the unique characteristics of the wool-producing follicles. This special quality is genetically transmitted to cross-bred lambs, characterizing the Wensleydale ram as perhaps the leading wool improving sire in the world.

Wensleydale wool is used for its special effects and handle in hand knitting yarn, knitwear and cloth and sometimes in upholstery fabrics. Because of its similarity, it is regularly used to blend with mohair.

 

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Year of the Sheep – Reloaded!

Bond samples!

Now that you have enjoyed your Cheviot – and who wouldn’t? – it’s time to talk about the next installment in our celebration of sheep.  What, you ask, are we doing now?  Goodness naturally.  Delicious, yummy, wooly, goodness in the form of…..

Bond!

Finished objects made from handspun Bond fiberIt is soft, crimpy and wonderful.  It’s great for lace, great for next to skin, great for warmth, great for stitch definition.  And it has Merino in its bloodline, which you could probably tell from that description.  But Bond is a different fiber.  It has more bounce, more loft and that comes from the other half of its lineage. It is also featured in our Beth Smith Sampler and if you’ve had the fortune to try it, I’m sure you know how wonderful it is.  Now is a great time to get enough for a project.

Crackers in his Bond sweaterBond is, well, heavenly.  It is the result of a Peppin Merino and Lincoln cross by those spunky Aussies. It is one of the few breeds I look for coated, and all of the Bond I carry has been.  It’s all clean and lustrous and has amazing crimp and lock length.  The color variety is extensive and I’d love to be able to carry every single shade.  Personally, I think this breed lends itself to the creamy brown and moorit shades and the silvers very very well.  I love this breed so much I have at least 6 full fleeces – one of which is being prepared for weaving fabric for a tailored houndstooth coat!  It soft and wonderful and it was the only breed my, now gone from us, shih tzu Crackers would wear for his sweater.  And it kept lovely stitch definition for cables.

I also like to leave a little bit of lanolin in this fiber for spinning, especially if I’m doing anything woolen.  It does make lovely woolen yarns, even with that lengthy staple.

1, 2 and 3 ply examples of handspun BondSince I do have a penchant for the moorit shades of this fleece, our samples for you are from a lovely pale milk chocolate moorit fleece.  I have my customary lace sample, stockinette sample and samples of 3 ply and 2 ply yarns.  I would definitely weave this as a closer sett but it’s so nice anyway and the others well, so yummy.

So check out our current stock of Bond before they’re all snatched up!

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It’s The Year of the Sheep!

THE YEAR OF THE SHEEP – Part 1

We spinners get all the luck in 2015!  Have you heard?

Year of the Sheep!

It is the Year of the Sheep according to the Chinese calendar so we here at The Spinning Loft have decided to do something exciting.  We are celebrating …. wait for it…..

SHEEP!  

I know right?  Aren’t you excited?  It’s a whole new thing for us! I thought we might branch out.

Ok ok ok, fine.  The Shih Tzu Overlord has decided my sense of humor is flatly NOT amusing and demands I get on with it.  (When is the year of the Shih Tzu, Mummy? Huh?  WHEN?)

Cheviot yarn on the bobbin
The Loft colorway – Sock yarn singles on the bobbin

Throughout this year we will be featuring certain sheep.  Challenging breeds, unsung heroes, personal favorites, super versatile fibers, and even, if we like you all very much (and we do), some spinner’s fleeces* – they are all fair game this year.

Why should you love this?  Aside from the fact that it’s all about Sheep and so are we?  Well, because you will get a 10% discount on any featured breed/fleece product!  There’s no need to enter any coupon code, the discount will appear on the featured products automatically.

So who or what is the lucky first victim candidate?  Well, it’s one of my favorites for lofty poofy well wearing yarn that is still comfortable for the hands: Cheviot!

I LOVE CHEVIOT.

Cheviot plys
Top to bottom: Cheviot Singles, 2-ply and 3-ply yarns

It makes great socks.  It’s lofty.  It takes dyes nicely.  It has a lovely creamy color when left white. Did I mention it makes great socks?!   It shows cables well.  It’s a great winter outerwear wool.   It’s sturdy.  Did I mention the socks?  Ok – so maybe it’s not so good for drapey lace shawls, but if you wanted to add a lacework element to some cables it’s a great option.  It weaves nicely.  It’s spongy and springy – a friend once described it as “bouncy as a bunch of kangaroos.”  That’s because of its characteristic helical crimp. Sometimes the texture of this crimp comes through as “crunchy” and can give the impression of coarseness.

Cheviot are sturdy sheep, bred to care for themselves in the harsh conditions of the Cheviot Hills and the HIghlands where they range free on the hillsides and rarely see the inside of a shed, let alone a barn, and their wool reflects that.  It’s lofty and thick and warm and sheds water.  This is why Cheviot is so good for socks and outerwear or anything that needs some ruggedness.  I confess that their history is as much why I like them as their wool – they were mentioned as long ago as the 1370s.

It’s just SO GOOD!

What should I tell you about Cheviot that is not in our Sheep-o-pedia? Well, I’ll tell you.

Cheviot is one of the parents of Perendale (the other is Romney).  I find it doesn’t object to be spun thin – and given how much it likes being a traditional 3-ply, I am fond of this trait.  It works well for worsted OR woolen spinning as well, which is why it does so well as socks or outerwear.  The wool has a spongy-ness to it that promises loft (and it delivers) and thus it also spins nicely into uber floofy thick and thin singles – or even just very lofty bulky yarns.  Where the strongly spun and plied singles for socks are sturdy, the fluffy singles are warm and lofty.  You can also coax it to felt with a little effort.   I would call Cheviot felt-resistant as opposed to some who say “it’s un-feltable” – Cheviot is not a true down breed so it’s less likely to be un-feltable.

And just to be even more fun I have photos of some of my samples for you too.  Singles yarn, 2-ply yarn, 3-ply yarn, stockinette samples, lace samples, woven samples – even, yes, sock yarn made from The Loft in Cheviot.  These are the best socks EVER.

Cheviot locks, raw and cleaned
Raw and scoured Cheviot locks
Raw and cleaned cheviot locks
More raw and scoured Cheviot locks

 

We even have some Cheviot dyed in our “The Loft” colorway from Spunky Eclectic for anyone who doesn’t want to process it themselves!  I love this colorway so much I accidentally dyed my hair to match it over the holidays.  (Seriously – I really did do it by accident.  Well, the dyeing was on purpose, I just didn’t realize I had created the colorway on my head until a friend said they wanted to knit my hair.)

Skeins of The Loft colorway on cheviot
The Loft sock yarn on Cheviot. Such great colors!
Swatches of The Loft
Swatches of The Loft, that’s the sock swatch on top.

 

Also interesting is that North Country Cheviot is actually a different breed of sheep.  They may originate with “hill breed” from the highlands of Scotland, the Cheviot, but these sheep are from the lowlands on the English border with Scotland.  The difference in environment creates a difference in the fleece.  Cheviot is sturdier.

If you are accustomed to or prefer Merino, Bond and BFL, you will find Cheviot coarse feeling.  But it’s a really fun spin anyway so don’t give up.  Give Cheviot a chance – it’s a wonderful all around  fiber from a great sheep!

On more thing…. A brief announcement.  We have received updated pricing from our vendors for 2015.  Most have had some sort of price increase over our previous stock and we will be updating accordingly.  After February 28th, we will be listing the new stock at the new prices.  On the other hand, there was no postal increase in January so that’s refreshing.

* A spinner’s fleece won’t be breed specific – but it will be a fleece or fleeces from some of my favorite shepherds who are producing delicious fibers for spinning that I fell in love with and JUSTHADTOHAVEZOMG.  They might be strange and unusual crosses or they might be just plain delicious.  You’ll have to wait and see!