• Fleece Fibre Test

    Posted on 27th November 2015 by Shelley in Spinning Weaving Fibre.
    Suri Alpaca animal fibre fiber

    Suri Alpaca

    One Alpaca and 8 Sheep I’ve tested on this post to go straight from the fleece to the wheel by missing out the carding/combing stage.  If you missed out at the beginning of this experiment then click HERE for the introduction and description of what I’ve been trying to do.   You will also find my first participant which was the Romney sheep.

    There are also another 7 Sheep, 1 Alpaca and 1 Goat in separate posts on my blog page HERE.

    Suri Alpaca :  Originates from South America thought to be in Peru or Bolivia and remnants have been found that dates back thousands of years.



    Suri Alpaca Fibre Test: Fleece from “Roger Clarke” at www.amberlyalpacas.wordpress.com  or find them on www.facebook.com/amberly.alpacas   

    Photo from Wikipedia.

    I think because this fleece has no crimp it made it a bit more difficult to tease into a fluffy ball.  I think it will comb beautifully as the staples are measuring from 3.5 – 5.5ins, but that’s not what we’re doing today.


    Fibre from the Suri Alpaca

    Suri Alpaca Fibre


    It was quite slippery to spin from the teased fibre and so I got a rather hairy singles with odd wispy bits sticking out, I thought a semi-worsted style would be better in this case.  It had an interesting look when Navajo plied and is a gorgeous gingery colour.


    Singles and Plied yarn from the Suri Alpaca

    Suri Alpaca Yarn


    I used a 3.5mm needle for this sample which gave a nice hairy fabric and so the wispy bits didn’t look odd, they blended in.  The Huacuya Alpaca gives a fuzzy fabric, but this is hairy more like a kind of Mohair effect.  It’s softer than the adult Mohair. 


    Suri Alpaca knitted fabric swatch

    Suri Alpaca Knitted Sample


    Although it is a nice fabric I think I will probably card or comb this when I go to make something with it, because that will show it at it’s best.  So for this experiment it’s a 7/10



    Blue Texel sheep breed

    Blue Texel

     Blue Texel :  Originates from the Island of Texel North West Holland and have the recessive ‘blue’ gene which gives them the badger-like face markings and the coloured fleece.


    Blue Texel Fibre Test :  Fleece from “Millside Farm, Galston”  www.millsidefarm.co.uk  or find them on https://www.facebook.com/millsidebluetexels


    Photo kindly provided by Millside farm where this fleece was born.


    This is not as soft as the white Texel although the staples are measuring the same 2 – 3.5ins, but I love it’s texture and the mix of browns and greys.  I think this will spin up quite well straight from the fleece.


    Blue Texel fibre and staple

    Blue Texel Fibre


    This was not as smooth as some of the others so I used a short forward draw to try and smooth it out quicker as I went.  It was uneven and my drafting fingers did hurt a little. After plying it the Navajo way, it evened out a bit and turned out to be a relatively smooth 3 ply yarn.


    Blue Texel singles and plied yarn

    Blue Texel Yarn


    I used a 5mm needle for this knitted sample and it made a lovely mostly even fabric, although I think the colour helped blend it in rather well. Because this was quite sore on my hands when drafting I think I will be carding it for my next project. 


    Blue Texel Knitted fabric

    Blue Texel Knitted Sample


    But I like working with a Blue Texel fleece, when you spin with it the greys mixing with the browns gives this sparkled effect and it’s really lovely. But for this experiment though I give it a 5/10.



    Texel sheep breed


     Texel :  Originates from the Island of Texel on the north West Coast of Holland and has been in the UK from 1970.


    Texel Fibre Test :  From fleece sale @ woolfest – no name attached.


    Photo from British sheep & wool book.


    This has short to medium size staples at 2 – 3.5ins and such a soft springy, almost foamy feel to it. It was also easy to tease into a nice foamy fibre ball.


    Texel Fibre and staple

    Texel Fibre


    This was easier to spin than the Blue but it did have a slightly longer staple so I spun this woollen style.  I was surprised at how even it looked after the Navajo plying.

    Texel singles and plied yarn

    Texel Yarn


    I used a 5mm needle for this Texel as well and it gives a lovely hand to the fabric, it’s very nice. The white does show up the odd lumpy stitch but I would still wear a jumper made from this. 



    Texel Knitted fabric

    Texel Knitted Sample


     I would probably bypass the carding stage next time too.  For this experiment I give it a 9/10.



    Gotland sheep breed


     Gotland :  The modern Gotland has been going since the 1920’s from the Island of Gotland in Sweden.  The original Gotland (Gute) was established by the Vikings and can still be found on the island.


    Gotland(shearling) :  Fleece from “Jan Hicks Ivy Hall, Cumbria” . 


    Photo from Pintrest.


    This Gotland has such a curly fleece the staples measuring 3 – 4.5ins, so it was easy enough to tease out, but a lot of the curl was left in as the teasing just slackens it a little then it returns to it’s original shape.


    Gotland Fibre and Staple

    Gotland Fibre



    To spin it was lovely and very interesting it made little loops in the singles and when plied it made a really nice boucle effect yarn.  This would remove a step from the way you would normally make “Boucle Art Yarn” which could be handy!


    Gotland singles and plied yarn

    Gotland Yarn


    I used a 4mm needle for this sample, and it made a lovely knitted fabric which really showed up the texture.  I hope I can photograph the fabric so it shows this up as it really is lovely and fun to spin.   


    Gotland Knitted fabric

    Gotland Knitted Sample


    I think I would bypass the carding stage again when using this fleece for any textured items. This experiment  8/10.





    British rare breed Bluefaced Leicester

    Bluefaced Leicester

     Bluefaced Leicester x \gotland :  Fleece from “Kate Steed” you can find her at www.twitter.com/@shepherdsdelight .

    Gotland sheep breed







    Photo from wikipedia and British sheep & wool book.




    This fibre feels like it could be worn next to the skin, it did tease out okay even although the staples measured a wopping 6.5 – 7ins ! and there was still evidence of it’s crimpy nature.


    British breed fibre and staple

    Bluefaced Leicester x Gotland Fibre


    I think because of the long crimpy staple it was hard to get a smooth looking yarn and it took me a while to get the singles to do what I wanted as the fibre kept sticking to itself which made it more difficult to draft out too so I ended up spinning this woollen style.  The Navajo plying didn’t help any either and although the knitting showed up all the bumps, the fabric itself feels lovely. 



    Bluefaced Leicester x Gotland singles and plied yarn

    Bluefaced Leicester x Gotland Yarn


    This sample was made using a 3.5mm needle.  I would probably comb or card this when doing my next project as I think it needs that to show how beautiful this fleece really is. 



    Bluefaced Leicester x xGotland Knitted fabric

    Bluefaced Leicester x xGotland Knitted Sample


    It’s so beautiful in lock form that you really don’t want to make anything from it as it’s just such a joy to hold and pass through your fingers. For this experiment though I give it a 4/10.



    British rare breed Bluefaced Leicester

    Bluefaced Leicester

    Bluefaced Leicester x Shetland Hog : From fleece sale @ woolfest – no name attached.


    British rare breed sheep








     Photos from sheep & wool book & rbst poster.




    This fleece has quite a good size staple coming in at 3 – 4ins and feels soft with a lovely mix of natural colours.  


    Bluefaced Leicester x Shetland Fibre and staple

    Bluefaced Leicester x Shetland Fibre


    It was a bit sore on the fingers working it straight from the teased ball so I used a short forward draw and resulted in a rather lumpy yarn.  It looked slightly better once it had been plied.


    Bluefaced Leicester x Shetland singles and plied yarn

    Bluefaced Leicester x Shetland Yarn


    I used a 4mm needle to knit this up and it was okay to knit with, although the final result is a rather bumpy fabric.  But the mix of natural colours hides quite a lot and it is still a nice result.  


    Bluefaced Leicester x Shetland Knitted fabric

    Bluefaced Leicester x Shetland Knitted Sample


    I would probably card or comb this when I go to do my next project with it.  For this experiment it gets a 4/10.




    Manx Loaghtan British rare breed

    Manx Loaghtan

    Manx Loaghtan :  Established in the 11th century and thought to have been native to the Isle Of Man for more than 1000 years.                                                                            

    Sheep from New Zealand




    Corriedale : Native to New Zealand and evolved by crossing a Lincoln and Merino.


    Corriedale x Manx Loaghtan :  From “New Maybeck Farm, Sneaton” @ Woolfest fleece sale. 


    Photos from Wikipedia and British sheep & wool book.


    The staples from this fleece measured 3 – 4.5ins and I found it was a really soft lovely little fibre ball ready to be spun. 


    Corriedale x Manx Loaghtan Fibre and staple

    Corriedale x Manx Loaghtan Fibre


    But actually when I started to spin, it was a little hard on the fingers when drafting, so I spun this using the short forward draw and ended up with a thick and thin yarn when the plying was done.


    Corriedale x Manx Loaghtan singles and plied yarn

    Corriedale x Manx Loaghtan Yarn


    It knitted up quite nicely though, and it feels really (baby) soft.  I used a 4mm needle for this and the natural colours hid most of the bumps well. 



    Corriedale x Manx Loaghtan Knitted fabric

    Corriedale x Manx Loaghtan Knitted Sample


    I think I would card or comb this in the future to show what a lovely fleece this is, and it really is baby soft…  For this experiment though I give it a 4/10.



    Whiteface Dartmoor British rare breed

    Whiteface Dartmoor

     White face Dartmoor :  Evolved from the native sheep of Dartmoor in the 17th century.



    White face Dartmoor :  Fleece from “Paula” www.twitter.com/@farmerpaula  or find her at www.locksparkfarm.wordpress.com


    Photo from British sheep & wool book.  



    This fleece is a lovely bright creamy fibre, it’s glossy and had mostly individual locks measuring 3.5 – 5ins, they have a large wavy look and feel more hairy than wool.  I think I remember her saying it was a shearling, it is just beautiful.

    Whiteface Dartmoor Fibre and staple

    Whiteface Dartmoor Fibre


    I know there are a lot of spinners out there who always want a soft fleece, but they are really missing out!  I loved spinning this fleece and can’t wait to go back and make something with it. 


    Whiteface Dartmoor singles and plied yarn

    Whiteface Dartmoor Yarn


    Because I didn’t card or comb it, it was quite tricky to get a smooth yarn, even after plying.  I ended up using a short forward draw which resulted in quite a loopy yarn.


    Whiteface Dartmoor Knitted fabric

    Whiteface Dartmoor Knitted Sample


    It was really fun to spin and it made a really nice stretchy knitted fabric using a 5mm needle.  I would probably card this before spinning as I think it would make a lovely knitted blanket, but I would bypass the carding stage when making a nice rug. For this experiment I give it a 7/10.



    Poll Dorset/Dorset Horn british rare breed

    Poll Dorset

     Polled Dorset : The Polled Dorset  was developed in Australia in 1937, and is from the Dorset Horn breed which is one of the oldest breeds in Britain.



    Poll Dorset :  Fleece sale @ Woolfest -no name attached.

     Photo from www.british wool.org poster.



    This had quite a short staple vairying  around 3 – 4ins most of it nearer the shorter end, but it teased out okay though.


    Poll Dorset Fibre and staple

    Poll Dorset Fibre


    It was really hard to spin this fibre, and was just lump after bump which made it really sore on the hands.  I used a short forward draw for this as I don’t think I had any other option.  When Navajo plied it showed up every bump, so I kind of knew this wasn’t going to be fun to knit. 

    Poll Dorset singles and plied yarn

    Poll Dorset Yarn


    I tried a 4.5mm needle, then I changed to a 5mm and settled on a 5.5mm and you would not believe how nice the knitted fabric came out, I was amazed. 


    Poll Dorset Knitted fabric

    Poll Dorset Knitted Sample


    It was also softer than I expected but I think it probably needs to be carded to make it enjoyable to spin properly.  For this experiment I give it 4/10.


    It has been a really interesting experiment, with some surprising results and I think I will definitely go straight to the wheel more often depending on the project and fleece.  I just find the carding and combing stage of using a fleece very long and rather boring, even when I use a talking book or the radio for company.  I don’t want to just use prepared tops either as a raw fleece is beautiful to look at and to touch, and don’t forget we are also helping farmers get a good price for their wool.  I hope you enjoyed the blog and maybe try this yourself on some of you’re own fleeces, and if you’ve normally been a ‘prepared tops’ person than maybe I’ve convinced you to try a fleece or two.







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