Ah, sheep, those lovable critters that provide us with wool. There are tons of different sheep breeds making for a ton of different fiber types. Fiber even varies slightly from sheep-to-sheep of the same breed. Soft wools are meant for next-to-skin wear - body hugging sweaters, baby clothing. Medium wools are okay for most things - socks, outerwear, scarves. Coarse wools would be too itchy to wear against the skin. They make durable rugs, tapestries, blankets.
|BARBADO BLACKBELLY (raw fiber) - "hair sheep" with stiff outer guard hairs and soft, short inner down.|
|Very prickly and extremely difficult to spin with guard hairs. Inner down is soft and warm. Extensive processing required to separate down from guard hairs. Not recommended for beginners.|
|BLUE FACED (HEXHAM) LEICESTER (combed tops) - Springy, Slightly silky, Soft Longwool in natural cream|
|Very easy to spin! I recommend it highly for beginners.
Super soft with a little shine, this is scrumptious yarn! My current favorite. Makes a wonderfully lofty yarn that is slightly silky.
CHEVIOT (raw) - Very springy, medium to medium-coarse softness wool, medium staple length in natural cream color - good all purpose/durable fiber
||Pretty gross when I first got this stuff, smelled like a barn (hey, what did I expect!?) but it cleaned up beautifully. The yellowed lanolin washed out for the most part. Difficult to felt, which is a good thing with me washing it =)|
|COLUMBIA (raw fiber) - medium all around x-bred wool, slight silkiness, creamy white|
|Lots of crimp make this difficult to clean, easy to spin once prepped. Easy to get a consistent yarn. Durable fibers.|
|COOPWORTH (washed locks) - Silky with lots of waviness, soft, long wool, creamy white|
|This fleece is remarkably clean...perhaps a coated one? Coopworth is similar to Blue-faced Leicester, but I don't believe it's as soft. It's more shiny & has a gentle santa curl "wave". Great stuff! I love it! It's a long wool - it'll make a fantastic strong yarn. I spun it straight from the washed locks without flicking it.|
|CORMO (raw fiber) - soft/downy, very fine crimpy wool, covered sheep sample|
|Lot like Rambouillet, Cormo is slightly more durable. It's also not as fluffy. Very hard to clean due to excessive grease. Hard to spin, requires significant twist for it to hold.|
|CORRIEDALE (washed locks) - Medium softness, medium length wool. Not as springy as Cheviot and a bit softer. Natural grays & dyed|
|Easy to spin, should make for a durable sweater/sock yarn. Great all-purpose wool.|
|COTSWOLD (raw fiber) - long wavy curls "Santa's Beard", moderately coarse, shiny fibers.|
|Would make great loopy novelty yarn. Otherwise hard to prep due to waviness and long fiber lengths. Difficult to spin for the same reasons. Great sheen.|
|CVM / ROMELDALE (roving) - moorit (brown tortoiseshell) & creamy white|
|DORSET (washed locks) - Super springy, medium softness, medium length wool, natural white|
|Unbelievably springy! Arrrrrgggghhhh!! I can't even
comb this stuff. Looks just like cotton balls. Fortunately, it cards easily
& it looks like gauze!
I don't really like the yarn too much...it turned out really poofy & bumpy =( And it also feels a little bit coarse...good for springy rugs?
|FINN SHEEP (raw fibers) - Viking Sheep, long & fine fibers, wavy. Not very silky, but still soft. Moorit.|
|Makes a nice soft yarn, good for sweaters. Needs to be prepped well before spinning. Would try again!|
|HAMPSHIRE (raw fibers) - Medium down breed, medium-short fibers, moderately springy.|
|"Cottony" fiber that resembles Cheviot, but not quite as springy. Not silky. Possibly good for quilt batting.|
|ICELANDIC (raw fibers) - Dual Coated Viking Sheep. "Tog" is the hairy outercoat (resembles human hair), "Thel" is the down (soft and silky).|
||Tog is hard to prep - gets knots and is VERY coarse! Thel makes soft, but tough, yarn...possibly too coarse for sweaters??|
|JACOB SHEEP (raw fibers) -|
|KARAKUL SHEEP (raw fibers) - super long coarse wool that looks a lot like horse hair!!|
|Stringy, coarse, and durable, this is the choice for rugmakers. Little prep is necessary, just don't get the looooong fibers tangled. No crimp, it's very slippery and it needs a LOT of twist. Not for rookies.|
|LEICESTER, BORDER (raw fibers) - coarse longwool, wavy|
|This wool is so long that is should be combed...pull off a THIN sliver for spinning. Surprisingly soft, almost the same as Romney. Wavy fibers that are slightly silky. Easy to spin once combed.|
|LEICESTER, ENGLISH (raw fibers) - moderately coarse longwool, wavy locks, durable|
|Easy to clean with little grease. looks like synthetic hair! Easy to spin. May be soft enough for a sweater. Good for hats, outerwear.|
|LINCOLN (washed locks) - Silky with mild wave, soft, medium-long length wool, heathery gray|
|Oooh, silky soft! Ends have a little curl to them. Easily combed, easily carded (sideways rolags, since the fibers are long). Could probably be spun straight from flicked locks. This sample was spun into a novelty yarn. Not much loft, would make a silk/camelid type of yarn if overspun. Good for lace knitting?|
locks) - Springy, Very soft short wool in natural white and moorit
**Note: there are different grades of Merino based on "softness" (fiber diameter)**
|Super soft & crimpy fiber, feels great! Hard to process
& clean because of high lanolin content.
A bit harder to work with because the fibers are so fine. I prefer to comb instead of carding it. Carding can produce neps. More twist is necessary or the yarn will drift apart! Finished product is well worth the effort though...this is the stuff expensive sweaters are made of.
|MONTADALE (raw fibers) - medium x-breed, soft fluffy wool, medium softness|
|Similar to Corriedale, but a bit softer. This stuff is easy to clean, but difficult to prep without noils =( Delicate wool. Due to the springiness, it requires slightly more twist. Holds together well.|
|PERENDALE (raw fibers) - medium to coarse x-breed|
|Durable locks, a lot like Cheviot, but with longer staple length.|
|POLYPAY (raw fibers) - medium x-breed, soft, crimpy fine wool|
|Very soft Merino-like wool, a monster to clean due to tons of grease. Not quite as soft as Merino. Moderately difficult to spin, probably secondary to leftover grease. Delicate fibers. Would make great hats. Probably easy to felt.|
|RAMBOUILLET (raw fibers) - soft medium length locks, Merino-like wool|
||Delicate fibers and a small crimp make this fiber hard to clean. Lots of VM stuck in it. longer fiber lengths than Merino. Needs a lot of twist. Still a pleasure to work with if you're patient.|
|REDS (raw fibers) - coarse fiber with red guard hairs|
|Fluffy fine fibers, medium long length, medium softness. Pretty nice, except for bristly red guard hairs. Possible use as a novelty yarn.|
|ROMANOV (raw fibers) - viking/dual coated|
||Very bristly/short outer coat. Extremely hard to clean and spin. Not recommended unless you are able to separate out the undercoat from the overcoat!|
|ROMANOV X (raw fibers) - medium softness, medium length wool, no bristly outercoat|
||This stuff is much easier to work with when compared to Romanov, but it is still hard to clean, since it has a significant crimp! Similar to CVM, but not quite as soft or springy. Gorgeous color variegation|
|ROMNEY (raw fibers) - coarse medium wool that is lustrous. "Poor Man's Mohair"|
*pic coming soon*
|Makes beautiful yarn with shine! Some Romney is softer than others. This sample has a lot of "crunch". Easily combed and easily cleaned.|
|SCOTTISH BLACKFACE (raw fibers) - very coarse long wool|
|Scottish Blackface fibers are super easy to clean - hardly any grease at all. Horse-hair like consistency much like Karakul. Extra twist is needed during spinning, since the fibers do not have crimp. Moderately difficult to spin - I spun these straight from the locks. Also used for weaving & rugs.|
|SHETLAND (raw fibers) - Viking fine wool, medium length with waves|
|Easy to clean and a pleasure to spin, Shetland fiber is recommended! Categorized as a fine wool, it's actually more like a medium grade all purpose wool. Great for sweaters.|
|SOUTHDOWN BABYDOLL (raw fibers) - medium down fibers, super springy like cotton|
|Very short fibers in this sample make it difficult to clean. Lots of VM stuck in the springy fibers. Very difficult to spin evenly, would require making a fine yarn & careful preparation. Possible use in felting?|
|TARGHEE (raw fibers) - Medium x-breed, medium wool, downy|
|Semi-hard to clean medium wool. Soft and fluffy, not as wavy or greasy as Merino. Delicate fibers make this hard to prep. Great spinning, though.|
|TUNIS (raw fibers) - Soft medium downy wool from Africa|
|Similar to Targhee, but more downy. Easy to clean, but still greasy. Very medium wool, easy to spin and not too springy.|
Since camelid fibers are low in grease, they are usually spun without washing. Be careful when storing these things...the fibers are usually full of dirt, poo, and whatnot. Llamas especially love to roll around in the dirt =)
There are different grades of Alpaca - Baby Alpaca is the finest, Adult Alpaca is in between, leg/neck hair is coarse.
Alpaca fiber is 7-8 times lighter than wool, so you will need less for your project. Camelid fibers are usually slick & silky and they lack springiness...making for a yarn that doesn't retain its form. This is good for "drapy" projects such as scarves & shawls. A word about preparing camelid fibers: they are very static-y and they tend to fly all over the place!
|ALPACA (combed tops) - Adult Alpaca in Natural Dark "Black Walnut" Brown|
|Challenging to spin 'cause it's so slick
This particular shade looks like human hair!!
Alpaca is spun "in the grease", meaning unwashed off the animal. Some white colored guard hairs - easily picked out during or after spinning.
|LLAMA (picked fiber) - nautral red color, sorta reminds me of ALF ;)|
|Smooth, slippery, very fine fibers. Finer than the Alpaca I have. Hard to comb on regular combs. Difficult to card too. Would be better blended with something springy to give it loft, otherwise you're going to end up with a dense yarn like a ponytail of human hair! The yarn is not as slippery as alpaca.|
Back to the Fiber Arts Page