Friday, February 21, 2014

Series (Installment 2 - Corriedale Wool): Spinning my way through the Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook

Corriedale Wool 

  • Fiber Characteristics - Corriedale wool is readily available in commercial top and normally is seen in the preparation in either white or brown.  Commercial top is typically in the micron range of 26-27 which is a spinning count of 56-58s.  For those of you unfamiliar with what spinning count actually means . . .  "It is a system that originated in the 19th century (along with mechanized spinning equipment). It is the number of hanks of yarn, each 560 yards in length, that it is possible to spin from one pound of clean wool. The finer the wool fiber, the more hanks (greater length, thinner yarn) that can be obtained from one pound." (1)  So the lower the micron, the finer the fiber and more hanks per pound (higher spinning count).  

  • "The Corriedale is the oldest of all the crossbred wool breeds, a Merino-Lincoln cross developed in Australia and New Zealand and first brought to the United States in 1914. Corriedales are a dual-purpose sheep with good meat and wool.
    Their dense fleece is medium-fine and high yielding, with good length and softness, somewhat between medium wool and long wool. It is favored by hand spinners. Corriedale lambs produce good quality carcasses and have a high pelt value.
    Breed categories: medium wool, dual-purpose" (2)
    • Grades  - Like Alpaca, Corriedale fleece can have a range of micron.  This can vary from sheep to sheep, farm to farm.  It is based on genetics, environment and age, much like alpacas.  Published ranges of micron are 22 - 34 microns (1), and 25 - 31 (3).  In the commercial top market, there seems to be a consistent 26-27 microns.  
    This medium wool with the  range of micron 26-27 is still next to skin soft but is also durable and can be used for almost any project.  Corriedale (like most wools) does not have to be blended to make it "workable" for a particular project.  100% Corriedale is good all by itself, retains it shape and is easy to care for.  Having said that, if you are going to make socks, I would still blend with a bit of nylon for durability.  
    • Blending  - Corriedale blends well with other fibers like silk, nylon and alpaca. . . if using alpaca or another wool - make sure the micron is of a similar grade to the Corriedale to make the yarn as consistent as possible
    Organic Brown NZ Corriedale blended with Tussah and Soffsilk™
    Prepped from commercially prepared top -  For Sale Here
    • Prep Work   - When working from raw wool, washing methods are important.  While "spinning in the grease" can be accomplished with Corriedale, but it does have a good amount of lanolin (I could not find % stats) and like any wool, not washing completely and then storing can make for a "sticky" fleece that will be difficult to comb, card or spin.  So if you are not going to work with it right away, wash out the lanolin completely before storing.  Carding a sticky fleece will produce neps and noils.  
    • Spinning Ease -  when properly prepared, Corriedale is a pleasure to spin and is suitable for the beginner or experienced spinner.  Depending on prep, Corriedale can be spun woolen or worsted.   Since Corriedale is a very dense, crimpy wool, flicking locks and spinning from the lock is another method that can be employed if no blending is desired. 
    • Dye Uptake : Corriedale takes dye well and can be dyed before carding/combing using a kettle method or after combing/carding spinning using a hand-paint or kettle method.  It will felt so care should be taken as with any wool. 
      100% Corriedale self-striping in shades of grey - prepped from raw - carded and combed
    • Setting : Wet setting is accomplished like any other wool yarn.  Submerse in hot water, no agitation and hang to dry.  
    • Knitting : Corriedale is wonderful to knit with and can be used for next to skin garments for all but the most sensitive of people.  It is durable and can be used for almost any project.