June 11, 2012

Getting to Know Border Leicester Wool

One of the benefits of planning for a new fiber project is playing with new fibers. My 'Cover that Armchair' project meanders along, in no hurry at this point, whilst I consider project requirements and suitable materials. The stuff I normally choose for spinning, knitting and even weaving is normally geared toward clothing items, things that feel nice against the skin. Something like an armchair should feel comfortable, but I think the fabric needs greater durability than what I'd expect from a scarf, or even mittens or socks. Plus, this project will take hours and hours and hours. If I make it, I want it to last longer than the time I put into making it.

Good arguements for sampling new fibers. I've played around a bit with the Finn/Dorsett/Targhee. It has luster, it would make great socks, its almost next to skin soft, it should take dye beautifully. I almost want to save it for something else. Some days.

Next up is Border Leicester. Purchased from SuDan Farms in Oregon. This fleece is different from the fleeces I've played with before. Maybe because its a true luster longwool? I don't know. The locks are curly, wavy, shiny. They look silky, and almost like doll hair.

Until the comb runs through them.

Pulling the combed fiber into top is where this wool feels really different to me. It doesn't want to hang together like the other fleeces I've combed. I tried using the diz, (heeheee, it's such a fun word) but found it easier to pull the wool without it. Adding a bit of twist while I pulled helped keep the top together.

The Border Leicester drum cards differently too, still not wanting to 'stick together'. I might try carding with the drums set closer together. I know longwools have larger scales, so maybe there aren't as many grabby bits along the fiber shaft. I wonder if this stuff can felt at all? It spins nicely, and I keep reminding myself to add in a bit more twist than I usually would, seeing how this wool slides around.

I keep trying to get a nice, smooth single, and sometimes I think I've managed. But the yarn has a mind of its own. Look at all those fuzzy bits!

Spinning for knitting I'm comfortable with, but I've got questions about spinning for weaving, especially for making a durable fabric. Is a 2 ply with larger singles as durable as more plies with smaller singles? What will hold up better, a thin fabric or a thick one. Is one type of weave more durable than another, like twill verses plain? Hopefully the next few months bring answers. In the meantime, The Black Sheep Gathering is soon. I'll be on there, on the lookout for more fleece.


  1. What a beautiful fiber! I find the longwools make for intriguing spinning, precisely because they feel so different than the shorter wools I've spun with more often. But I'm betting that would make a gorgeous upholstery fabric. With regard to durability, the things I've read and spun suggest that more plies make for fewer ends sticking out, which in turn makes for a more durable fiber, but I'm a knitter not a weaver, so I'm not sure if that applies?

  2. Hi Jocelyn, until just recently, I wasn't a spinner either. One way or another, I'll find some answers. in the meantime, there's fleece sampling to help keep me busy.