Natural Wool Sampling
Since I started spinning, I had only really spun Merino and Churro. So I decided to order a Natural Wool Sample Pack from Woodland Woolworks to try. The sample pack is $25, and you get 16 1/2 oz. samples of 16 different types of natural wools. In the box below, you can see the unspun roving samples on the top, and the spun roving samples on the bottom.
So far, I've spun up 8 of the 16 wool types. This has been a great experience for me, and I highly recommend this to those of you who haven't had the opportunity to try all these different types of wool. Try them this way, then decide what you'd like to get more of for a large project!
I've tried to spin all of these in the same way to get the best comparison. I've been drafting parallel fibers from the tip of a pre-drafted strip of roving, using a short draw technique, possibly a long draw on some of the wool types. I'm plying the single into a two ply by winding it into a center pull ball and using both ends to ply together.
A few notes about the wools, from left to right in the above picture.
1) Blue Faced Leicester Top. Corriedale Cross is softer, but it felt about the same texture to spin up, with a little more crimp than the Corrie. Easy to draft. I think this yarn wants to be a medium weight single to be happy.
2) Jacob Brown Sheep top. A rougher wool, for outerwear for sure, I don't think I'd make a fitted sweater from this! Very easy to work with, the yarn had a pretty good crimp in it. This yarn definitely liked to be a thicker single. But a gorgeous dark brown color. I bet this would be great to use in some felting projects.
3) White American Wool top. Nice, soft, not as soft as Merino or Finn Sheep, but softer than the Corriedale Cross. This drafted easily, and I got the sense that you could spin a thick or a thin single from it depending on what you'd want it for.
4) Finn Sheep Top. I love this wool. Soft, lustrous, and easy easy easy to draft and play with. I think I could make fine yarn or thick yarn with this stuff. I would love to make some nice socks with this! One of the favorites so far!
And notes about the above wools:
5) Shetland Moorit Top. Love this one too. Good thing I ordered 12 oz. of it! It is the nicest natural brown color (moorit!), drafts amazingly well, and is a pretty soft yarn. Not as soft as the Finn Sheep, but definitely softer than the other colored wools in the pack. I think I could make this stuff thick or thin too, but it also likes to be a happy medium.
6) White Coopworth Top. Now, the catalog has this in the coarse wool category, but I really think that this sample was softer than the BFL sample I got. It drafted into a nice thin single very easily, and I think became one of the most balanced yarns of the bunch! I'd order more of this.
7) Icelandic Top. Gray. This I would have to say, is the coarsest of the batch of 8 that I've spun up yet. It is a blend of both the outer and inner wools of the sheep, as opposed to being the inner wool only, which I imagine is much softer. Wants to be a thicker single than I was wanting it too...so note, spin it thick! And, definitely for outerwear or felting.
8) Corriedale Cross top. I am, very fond of this top. It spun up beautifully and quite effortlessly. I even got Nate to spin some, and at his first attempt with the wheel, he made decent yarn with it (which promptly became a cat toy). Makes me glad I ordered a lb of this! I think that this top would like to be either a thin or a thick single, and it really yeilds to a light drafting hand well.
Overall, this has been a great experience. I highly recommend it to new spinners, or spinners who haven't spun that many different wool types. I think to spin them (well 8 of them at least) back to back was useful, for I could distinguish subtleties in the fibers that I wouldn't have noticed if I spun them all individually.
I think if I had to list them in order of favorite to least, it'd be:
1) Finn Sheep.
2) Corriedale Cross.
4) Shetland Moorit.
5) American Medium Wool.
6) Jacob Brown.
7) Blue Faced Leicester.
Though, I can see that I'd use all of these wools for their own purposes. Though the ones at the top seem more versatile to me, I would use the Jacob or Icelandic for some heavy duty garments or felting quite happily.
I love wool.