super fine wool

or
how i learned to like merino.

i’ve been spending a lot of my time spinning up the localish farm wool i received back here. in the process, i’ve been spinning two fine wools that i ordered.

navajo plied cvm (california variegated mutant)
local cvm

and the answer to the ultimate question? no longer 42, but that the freaking wool likes to be spun thin and way to a zen-like relaxing spin with said wools is, you guessed it, spin it thin.

local cvm

i fought this for so long. i am not a naturally thin spinner, so when i first started spinning merino, it was a struggle to say the least. after i became a better spinner, the reason for spinning fatter might have been brain block – i don’t want to spin super thin yarns to sell because i have to charge so much money for them.

local rambouillet
local rambouillet

here’s the story. fine wool has a short staple length, that is the length of one little sheep hair is not very long. this means you have to hold your hands close together when you spin it and when it twists, it wants lots of twist to hold those fibers together.  it is hard (and perhaps impossible?) to spin many of these wools fatter and really super even because i, at least, can’t have my hands close together and hold onto all of those little pieces of wool adequately enough to have control.  that might explain why i’ve noticed that thick and thin works very well with fine wools. i can hold my hands apart further than the staple length and just let it go.

local rambouillet

i do find that the way a fine wool spins also depends upon how the fiber is processed, dyed and the micron count (defines how slippy and soft it is ~ merino has the highest micron count). my soar hat spinning was merino, and it went well. no bitching over there. it might have been altered a bit by the dyeing, or perhaps a higher micron count merino. that said, i’m expecting it to pill like crazy one of these days.

speaking of, let us talk malabrigo worsted. making this yarn was a risk.  the softest a particular wool can ever be (theoretically) is a single spun with the smallest amount of twist possible to make it yarn.  that said, a fine wool, spun fatter than it wants to be without very much twist? that’s a recipe for a pilling disaster because it doesn’t have enough twist to hold all of those little hairs in place. i know you all love it, i know.  so get yourself a de-pilling device and go for it, but don’t say i didn’t warn you ;)

p.s. i’m going to be sending out my first newsletter in a couple of days.  if  you’re interested, you can sign up in the side bar to the right.  this one is all classes and events (DC and pgh), so it will only go to those interested in such.

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6 thoughts on “super fine wool

  1. Once I crossed the oooooooh, I get it line…now I adore the merino…thin spin, and plied. Every once in a while I do a thick and thin single, but personally, I hate knitting with singles because I know that someday the garment/accessory/whatever will become a pill factory. I knit a whole cardigan in Malabrigo once and after the first wearing it looked like it was a thirty-year-old hand-me-down. Bummer. I have to admit I’m in love with their colors, and so knit something small with it occasionally. But this is why I hardly ever spin singles anymore, unless with a very long staple wool. When I knit something up, especially if it’s with handspun, I want it to last!

    I love that aqua/olive/white combo, btw!

  2. I saw your comment on the malabrigo / merino pilling issue over on another blog, it makes sense. a little bit o pilling never really bothered me, tho, and I’m willing to look a touch “dirty” to have that softest soft touching my skin. :)

  3. No kidding on the Malabrigo. I’ve got a pullover in the works with it that I started ages ago. In the mean time, I’ve knit some mitts with it and my goodness, the pilling! I know the sweater will do the same thing, but I also know it will be so warm and soft and yummy…I probably wouldn’t start this same project now knowing what I do, but I’m going to finish this one, even if I only end up wearing it around the house!

  4. Pingback: the usual… « cosymakes

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