Breed Review: Texel

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As I learn about spinning and wool, I’ll share it all with you.

I have the Greater Los Angeles Spinning Guild to thank for this bump of wool. At every meeting, the guild holds a raffle with items donated by members. The proceeds go to the guild and I always bought a few tickets even if it meant scrounging up a couple of quarters from the bottom of my purse. Eventually, one of those tickets won and I took home 103g of Texel with the fitting colorway name of Tequila Sunrise. With a little research on Ravelry and Google, I found out that roving was part of Southern Cross Fibre’s January 2012 fiber club. Internet, you rock.

Since learning to spin, I’ve become familiar with Merino, Bluefaced Leicester, Falkland, and Targhee but Texel was a new breed for me. At first glance, it wasn’t lustrous but had wonderful color. At first feel, it wasn’t next to the skin soft but seemed sturdy and strong. I opened up The Field Guide To Fleece to get more information. Turns out that Texel sheep are raised mostly for meat but that their wool is of good quality. The fiber insulates well, takes color easily, has strong crimp, and can vary in staple length from 3” to 6”. I can’t speak for the insulating qualities but I can definitely attest to the color and crimp. The staple length in my roving was between 3” and 4”. The authors also write that Texel is “relatively easy to spin” which I found to be the case as well.

After pulling out the chain I was able to get a good look at all the colors. The fiber was dyed randomly with no two segments of color the same length. Fractal-spinning was right out but I didn’t want to spin a 2-ply either and potentially muddy the colors. I decided a fat single would best preserve the colors and went from there.

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For easier drafting and to break up the longer color stretches, I split the fiber lengthwise down the middle. 

Split them again, but in half this time to create 4 nests of fiber. During spinning, I picked them randomly when I needed more fiber. Since I was aiming for a fat single, I used a short-forward draw and the 6.8:1 whorl ratio on my Sidekick.

I’m glad I split the fiber up because that meant I had several long gradients of color just like this. Can’t wait to see how this yarn knits up.

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While I was drafting I came across these individual hairs occasionally. They were longer and courser than the rest of the fiber and didn’t take dye at all. If I noticed them before they were drafted into the single, I pulled them out, but didn’t worry with them otherwise. 

This is what happens when you forget to switch over to a jumbo bobbin before spinning 4 oz worth of singles. Thankfully, nothing got caught up in the whorls or twisted around the flyer shaft.

Off the bobbin! Normally, if I were finishing and setting the twist as usual, this is where’d put the info about what happened after it came out of the wash; however, I’m trying something new with this skein. When I was spinning the Texel, I came across a blog post from Hedgehog Fibres that focused on fulling, aka felting, handspun singles. Those yarns looks lovely and I want to try intentionally felting my handspun for once instead of doing it by accident. More on that adventure soon.

Stash Documentation

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In February, I signed up for the Spun Right Round Fiber club as soon as it popped up in the Etsy shop. Doesn’t hurt to obsessively stalk a shop’s RSS feed, right? Please tell me I’m not the only one that does this. Joining the club was a consolation prize, albeit an awesome one, for not being able to make the trip to Stitches West. Eventually, the shipping notification arrived in my inbox and I waited none too patiently for March’s shipment to show up in my mailbox. The fiber is soft and the colors are definitely outside of my usual color spectrum. Riotous neon pink doesn’t often make it into my stash but this bump makes it look fun. Can’t wait to start spinning it up. 

When I went to add the fiber, appropriately named Color Bot, to my Ravelry stash, it looked it was the only fiber I’ve bought in months. Definitely not true. I was also pretty sure that I’ve made more than 21 skeins of handspun. Oh, Ravelry, I have not forsaken you! I’ve just been a little distracted by spinning and writing and websites and knitting and video games and…you get the point. Over the past few days I’ve been adding to, photographing for, and updating the stash catalog. The whole process can be slow going but it’s worth it and I recommend it. A happy, up to date Ravelry stash let’s you see all your fiber at the click of a finger. Makes it easier to decide what to spin next. No need to drag it all unless you want to. Plus, it’s a great reference when you’re trying to decide how to further enhance the stash. 

I almost forgot I had some this stuff. Shame on me. 

Malabrigo Nube - Glitter Colorway. This Merino is ridiculously soft and the colors are everything you’d expect from Malabrigo. 

CosyMakes Falkland - Flight of Fancy

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More CosyMakes Falkland in Honey Bear. Before and After.

Gale’s Art Corriedale Top - Limited Edition Color

6 oz of un-dyed Corriedale Cross. Sometimes you just need a few neutrals to balance out all the color. Thinking about about pairing it with the purples, greens, and blues of the Corriedale from Gale’s Art. Maybe I’ll try spinning my first skein of sock yarn. 

Review: The Field Guide to Fleece

When I bought The Field Guide to Fleece last week, I thought it would be helpful when I eventually went to a random fiber festival. Or when I was looking up wool and fleeces from indie dyers and farms. I definitely didn’t expect to use it 2 days later at the spinning guild meeting.

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At every meeting, the guild holds a raffle for fiber or books or yarn. I spent $3 and split my 6 tickets between some roving and a washed fleece. Didn’t win the fleece but I did get the roving. There was no label, only a few notes on the bag. It was just enough info to find out the roving was the January 2012 shipment of the Australia-based Southern Cross Fiber Club. The colorway, Tequila Sunrise, is beautiful and on a completely new to me wool, Texel.

On a lark, I looked at The Field Guide first instead of searching though a few pages of search results. On page 204, was an entry for the Texel which is originally from the Netherlands and bred mainly for meat. It has a staple length of 3-6” and, while lacking in luster, spins up to make a lofty, air-filled yarn. The fiber is nowhere near soft but good for hardy blankets, pillows, and mats.

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The Field Guide to Fleece by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius is a steal at $14.95. It alphabetically details 100 different sheep breeds with photos and clear, detailed information. Everything from breed history and characteristics - staple length, micron count, and fleece weight - as well as how the wool takes dye, its best uses, and how readily the fiber felts. Every entry has a photo of the sheep and a close-up of an individual lock next to a ruler. The book is a wonderful pocket-sized resource that’s worth buying both for new and experienced spinners who need a good, quick resource. 

Wander the Web 13

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Spinzilla is already half over and I’m still spinning along. I’m over halfway through 6 oz of Perendale which smells delightfully wooly. Hope it’s all spun up by Sunday! During the moments I haven’t been producing yardage, I found some interesting links. Got to give my wrists a break some time. Good luck, fellow Spinzillians! 

Observing Earth: Satellite Photos from European Space Agency

Handknit Socks in Space!

Interview with knitting extraordinaire Leethal AKA Lee Meredith 

Learn a little about Foula Sheep

An emergency home built in 5 hours to last 15 years 

The Yarndale Bunting - Over 6,200 crochet triangles from 31 different countries decorated the Yarndale Wool Festival. The before and after photos are wonderful. (via KnittyBlog)