Friday, July 10, 2015

Series (Installment 3 - Icelandic Wool): Spinning my way through the Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook

This is the third post in the Series.  Follow the links below to view the 1st and 2nd posts in this series.

Installment 1 - Huacaya Alpaca
Installment 2 - Corriedale Wool

Icelandic Wool 

"This breed originated in Iceland and is hardy and adapted to harsh, changeable climate and marginal pasture and browse conditions. Ewes are prolific, good milkers and possess exceptional longevity. The Icelandic has historically been a meat breed, but is also a noted source of wool for lopi yarn. Fleece colors can be white, tan, brown, gray or black. The breed is both polled and horned with both sexes capable of horn growth." 1
  • Fiber Characteristics - Icelandic fleece are dual-coated.  There is a long outer coat called the tog and a downy soft undercoat called the thel.  The can be separated or spun together.  Icelandic fleece is a very versatile fiber and  the tog/thel combo can be spun into a single ply lopi type yarn (although a true lopi is actually slightly twisted roving) , 2-ply tog/thel combo or can be separated.  The tog is long and strong and can be spun for warp or a variety of uses.  The soft thel undercoat can be spun by itself or blended with fine fibers such as alpaca to make a next to skin soft yarn.  Micron of the tog (27-30) with an average staple of 4-18 inches, micron of the thel (19-22)  with an average staple of 2 - 4 inches. 1
  • Grades  - There are not typical grades like that of alpaca, but from my experience, lamb and hoggett fleece are softer than adult as one might expect.  Also on a lamb/hoggett fleece, the tog and the thel are closer in micron and the resulting yarn is softer.  As a sheep ages, it seems that the tog gets coarser, much like alpaca fiber. 
  • Blending  - The thel is wonderful blended with other soft fibers like alpaca for next to skin wear! Blending the tog and the thel together and spinning it is very common and makes a wonderful strong yarn for outerwear, but on young fleeces, the tog and thel can be blended together and still be next to skin soft.    
  • Prep Work   - most often, I like to card this fiber into batts or rolags to spin, but Icelandic can be spun from the lock as well.  It is best if you feed the fiber cut side into the carder. If I am going to separate the tog and thel, I like to do so before washing, but it can also be accomplished after.  I separate by hand, but you can also use a single pitch comb if you prefer.  Do not use double pitch combs as all of that beautiful thel fiber will end up as waste.   Careful washing is VERY important for this wool more so than other wools as Icelandic fiber is some of the best fiber on earth to felt with.  I have even found that the fiber in my draft hand will felt from the moisture in my hand, so I take only a small amount to hold at any one time.  Any agitation in the wash and you will find yourself having a solid mass rather than fiber to spin.  It usually requires only one wash in hot water to remove the lanolin and 2 hot rinses as they are not a really lanolin heavy.  My experience is a loss of 15% or less to lanolin.  (I will be doing a video of tog/thel separation in the near future and will update this with a link
  • Spinning Ease -  When well prepared, Icelandic spins like a dream.  I have seen many folks afraid of this fiber on discussion groups, but for me it is one of the most fun fibers to spin.  It is so versatile!  I would not recommend it for a true beginner, but after some experience conquering other wools and wool prep, I say jump in and enjoy.  True traditional Icelandic Lopi (from native Iceland) is defined as a "slightly twisted" and is very light and airy and is more "roving" like.  True Lopi should not be confused with a "single", but many people use the two interchangeably.  I have never spun true Lopi, but I do have a single pictured below. 

    "The machine-carded roving is produced in disc-shaped rolls. This is the original unspun lopi first used for knitting c.1920's. More recently, lightly spun lopi yarn in different thicknesses has become available." 2
  • Dye Uptake :  you can see from the pic below that Icelandic takes dye wonderfully.  Healthy fiber (from healthy animals), like the ones I have had the pleasure of working with has a natural sheen and beauty and produces wonderful jewel-toned colors.  
  • Setting : Wet setting is accomplished like any other wool yarn.  Submerse in hot water, no agitation and hang to dry.  With "Lopi" style yarn, I do a tiny bit of fulling by a submersion in hot water followed by a submersion in cold water, no agitation and then some good  thwacks (4 - 5)  and hang to dry.  I also let my "Lopi" yarn sit on the bobbins for at least 48 hours to "relax" before skeining. It makes a world of difference! 
  • Knitting : Icelandic 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.   The lamb/hoggett fleeces are very soft if not overspun, and can be enjoyed next to skin by almost anyone, even if not separated.   

    Some of my work with Icelandic wool.  I spin a lot of Icelandic, so I chose this selection to show the versatility of Icelandic.

    Batts blending both tog and thel.  Dyed a raspberry colorway.
    A lovely soft natural copper color to the right.  Fiber from my friend Tracy. 
    Tog and thel blended together into a 2 ply yarn.  Fiber from my friend Connie
    Tog and thel blended together into a 2 ply yarn with guineau
    feathers incorporated.  Fiber from my friend Connie
    Thel only.  So shiny and soft - 2 ply.  Fiber from my friend Connie.

    Tog only.  Strong and tightly spun 3 ply because of it's intended
    use.  Fiber from my friend Connie.

    Tog and thel blended together into a 2 ply yarn.  Fiber from my friend Connie.

    Tog and thel blended together and then plied with a cut up
    silk scarf.  
    Fiber from my friend Connie. 

    "Lopi"style yarn still on the bobbins - fiber
     from my friend Deb - Sheep "Agnus Dei" 
    Finished well "relaxed" Lopi Style yarn.
    Fiber from my friend Deb - sheep "Astrid" 

    1 -
    2 - 

    Thursday, July 9, 2015

    Tour de Fleece Days 4 - 6 - July 7th - 9th

    Not much spinning was done on day 4 :(  I did manage to get my Jacob blend in for a photo shoot however and now it is hanging to dry before skeining and breaking them into smaller skeins.  This will be for sale in the shop this weekend.

    Day 4 - July 7th 
    First skein of #TdF2015 all complete and photo'ed. #handspunyarn #HotOffTheWheel #TourdeFleece2015 #TdFsapgap2015 #igspinners #spinningfiber #spinnersofinstagram #almapark #AlmaParkAlpacas #igknitters #knittersofinstagram

    Day 5 - July 8th - 11:04 AM
    Finished the first of four skeins of the "Lopi" style yarn from Icelandic wool, from a sheep named "Agnus Dei".


    July 8th - 7:55 pm
    Finished 2 more of these skeins - no pic :)

    July 9th 6:23 am 
    Finished the last skein.  I will let them sit for at least 48 hours to relax.  I like to do that with singles.  Here are all 4 together just hanging out.


    Started an Icelandic/silk (80/20) blend.  This will be a 2-ply when finished.


    Tomorrow, I am expecting a package from one of my handspinners and I need to do  something with color.  Stay tuned !!

    Monday, July 6, 2015

    Tour de Fleece Days 2 & 3 - July 5th - 6th

    Day 2 - Sunday July 5th 

    After yesterday with 4th of July fireworks and fun .... I wanted to sleep in, but my dogs had another idea.  I was jolted from a peaceful sleep at 6:15ish to my Mastiff, Gus barking, which is a rarity, so always cause for me to take a look. I just wanted to sleep to 7am <whine>.  I normally get up at 5-5:30 each morning to get things done before my daughter (4 years old) wakes up.  So what was Gus and my pain-in-the-butt-bark-at-her-own-shadown  Boston Mastiff, Dizzy, barking at?  My husband fixing the power washer outside. Sunday morning peace shattered. . . well at least coffee was ready and I half-asleep got a cup and settled in with George (my Hansen mS).

    2:04 PM 
    I finished the second bobbin (1st bobbin was done pre-tour) of my Jacob, bamboo, nylon, Angelina blend.   I will ply it tomorrow.

    12.4 oz ready to ply.  6.2 completed during #TdF2015.  #HotOffTheWheel #AlmaParkAlpacas #almapark #spinningyarn #handspunyarn #igspinners #spinnersofinstagram #TdFsapgap2015 #TourdeFleece2015

    Day 3 - Monday July 6th 
    12:04 PM 
    Plying complete!!

    Wow, that did seem to take forever! Of course other chores were also on the agenda this morning, so it really only took a total of about 2.5 hours.  I will skein it tonight or tomorrow as more store and farm chores, among other things need my attention.

    I plan to break it into 3 equal skeins after it soaks since it is 12 oz total for easier sell.  Currently before soaking and the possible poof that Jacob is know for, it is about 24-26 WPI which is a fingering weight.

    Done with the ply.  Took forever!!!  #TdF2015.  #HotOffTheWheel #AlmaParkAlpacas #almapark #spinningyarn #handspunyarn #igspinners #spinnersofinstagram #TdFsapgap2015 #TourdeFleece2015

    7:08 PM 
    I am done for the day and am just finishing up this post (after dinner) and before heading into the living room for some family time.

    What's on the agenda tomorrow? 
    1 - Skein up my Jacob blend and put in the soak.
    2 - Soak my All Colors™ TnT
    3 - Start spinning this Icelandic Wool.  This will be spun as a single in the "Lopi" style that Icelandic is so famous for.  It is a combination of the thel and tog spun together.  It is washed and then carded all together on the drum carder.  I took it off the drum carder in fat rolags.   This will be spun on my Ashford Joy wheel because I find it easier to do a single on that wheel more so than any other of my wheels.   It will be a thick yarn - worsted to aran weight of about 12 WPI.   I will be publishing a post on Icelandic wool in the next week and all the different ways and techniques (with pics) that can be done to this very versatile wool.
    4 - Make some fun funky super fat coiled art yarn from this pile.  It will be a corespun yarn, coiled on itself and then wrapped with silk hankies.  I will be videotaping part of the spin for you all to watch as well.  The silk hankies looked a little washed out in the pic, but they are the same colorway as the top on the left.   I will be doing this on my Hansen mS.

    I will switch between the 2 yarns so that I don't get bored :)

    Saturday, July 4, 2015

    Tour de Fleece Day 1 - July 4th

    Happy Birthday America !!

    I am going to chronicle my TdF journey here and do one post a day.

    7:23 AM- (with coffee in hand) 
    I will be doing the 2nd bobbin (6.2 oz) of this Jacob wool, bamboo, faux cashmere, Angelina combo. The first bobbin was completed prior to the tour.  I will be spinning on my Hansen mS.  I am shooting for a fingering weight (24 WPI) yarn, but Jabob normally poofs up, so it may be more towards sport once washed.  We will see.  My singles on the first bobbin approx 38 WPI right now.  This is going to be several skeins once completed, for the shop. 

    Here is the Ravelry link to all the info on this yarn (still in progress).

    6.2 oz in rolags waiting to be spun and 6.2 oz on the bobbin prior to the tour

    11:32 AM - (with interruptions from husband, child, and animals) 
    My progress this morning. . . .  2 oz spun.  I will continue more this evening after today's festivities and chores are completed.  

    10:54 PM 
    Did about 3 oz total and will finish this on Day 2 of TdF and maybe even ply. 

    And in other news  . . . . 
    I also skeined this up today and it will be in the shop sometime in the next few days.  It was spun prior to the TdF, but hey looking at colorful yarn is fun .....right?!?

    This is my signature All Colors™ TnT Self-Striping.  Some bobbles, coils and beehives as well :) Mix of wools, wool locks, alpaca, silk, sparkle. 

    All Colors™ TnT Self-Striping