Tag Archives: bulky yarn

Meduseld Expanding Wine Grape Varieties

Meduseld is expanding the varieties in its “Pick-Your-Own” Vineyard! We are diversifying the varieties so that homeowners making small-batch wines for personal use will have more options. This year we are expanding our Cabernet Franc to three full rows. Our experimental Carmeniere and Viognier vines did well on our soil so this year we are adding more of those vines as well. I have been transplanting Steadler Noir cuttings that I started last year. I am astounded at how much root develpment I was able to get from cuttings in one year!

A Marechal Foch Vine budding at Meduseld

A Marechal Foch Vine budding at Meduseld

We are making soil adjustments as a result of soil test results that we got back earlier this Spring, and hope to see improvements in the quality of the vines. We have been pruning vines and trellising young ones.
As time permits, we are also going to expand our vineyard, adding perhaps another half acre.

A pruned Marechal Foch grapevine at Meduseld

A pruned Marechal Foch grapevine at Meduseld

Once the vines produce their first leaves this Spring, we are sending leaves to a laboratory which will provide detailed analysis of the major nutrients in the vines and give us much needed information for fine-tuning our soil-enhancements.

Even the humble dandilion makes excellent wine

Even the humble dandilion makes excellent wine

This is not all that is going on at Meduseld! Last week the sheep were shorn and the fleeces are ready for us to sort and send off to the fiber processing mill. The Romney Bulky wool is always popular and we are almost completely out of stock, so I am eager to get more of that.

Meduseld worsted romney yarn

And, our seedling trays are bursting the plants are ready for transplanting. Spring has sprung, and we are busy!

Alpaca Romney Bulky – Back in Stock!

I am thrilled to announce that Meduseld’s Bulky Alpaca Romney is back in stock!  Whew!  This is a highly popular natural brown blend that flies off our shelves.  We have limited production of this yarn since I use the same two fleeces each year to make it – one a natural brown alpaca and the other a natural grey brown Romney ewe.  Their blend yields a luxurious, shiny yarn.

Meduseld's Alpaca Romney Yarn

Meduseld’s Alpaca Romney Yarn

This yarn is so squeezably soft, wonderful for warm winter knits, and perfect for this time of year.  This yarn has no itch factor and is sutable for garments that touch your skin.  For some reason I cannot explain, it is darker this year than last, looking more like a rich dark chocolate.

This year's blend is darker, on left

This year’s blend is darker, on left

 We only have five pounds of this yarn, so supply is again very limited.  Each 250 yard skein weighs approximately 8.7 ounces – over half a pound!  They are $30.00 each, the same price as last year.  You can find them in our store here!

Gratefully,

Patricia

Sheep Breeds and Yarns – Romney

Over the next few weeks, we are going to go into more technical detail about specific sheep breeds and the yarns their wool yields. 

There are hundreds of breeds of sheep in the world, and through deliberate and sometimes natural breeding, such as on isolated islands in Ireland, they have developed very specific breed traits.  These are manifested in their confirmation, the shape of their heads, and their wool.  Some sheep have horns and some don’t.   They also develop differences in resilience to disease and parasites.  There are some breeds that seem to tolerate crowded conditions and some that are weak and susceptible to health problems. 

While wool is the most important issue for a fiber/textile operation, the shape of their heads also has a big impact.  For one breeding cycle here, we used a large Romney ram as sire.  Since some of our ewes are Romneys, we were seeking good pure breed genes.  And, since cross-breeding often improves other breeds, we hoped that this would add size and fiber quality to some of the Jacobs.   Unfortunately, this ram had an enormous head, which by Romney sheep breeder standards was a perfect head.  The poor girls had such difficulty birthing in the spring, though, that I had to literally pull 21 baby lambs during birthing.  They all survived, but doing that as a going concern was not going to be good for my ewes.  It explained why at the farm where we got the ram, many of their ewes were being delivered by c-section.  Yes, c-section.  Not good for the ewes, and a very expensive way to get yarn.

Ever since, we have selected rams with narrow heads, and the ewes are able to birth without help.

Today, we are going to discuss the Romney breed and its fiber in detail.

Romney ewe and lambs

 

Romneys are a breed that originated in Romney, England.  They developed into this specific breed without human intervention and are a large dual purpose (meaning both meat and wool) sheep that has a long fiber.  They come in both white and black, and white sheep can carry the black gene, as seen in the photo above.  Since they are such a good breed, they are often used to cross with other breeds to improve those.  For example, the Coopworth breed enjoys having Romney in its parentage and you can see it in their large confirmation and long wool. 

Romney wool usually has a long loose crimp and often have “sheen,” the quality that gives the yarn its luster.  When we selected our first Romneys, I deliberately sought the ones with the most sheen, and you can see it easily in pictures. 

The first photograph is of a bulky yarn, the next a worsted, and then a fingerling weight.

 bulky luster

 Meduseld bulky yarn

 

worsted luster

Meduseld worsted weight yarn

 Fingerling Romney yarn

 Meduseld Romney Fingerling/Lace weight yarn

They also make a lot of yarn.  For several years we had an almost two-hundred pound Romney who created 14 pounds of wool each year.  Once it was processed, his fleece still yielded 8 pounds of yarn, an amazing achievement for one animal.  I wish I had cloned him:)

Romney yarn, due to its smooth cuticle (what gives it its luster) and loose crimp (the curls) tends to drape very well.  It is excellent for loose flowing garments, such as shawls and draping sweaters.  The yarn also makes beautiful, warm hats and scarves.  It would not be good for garment that needs lots of structure as it responds to gravity and drops or pulls from the top.   There are Romney yarns made from a tighter crimp fleece that won’t do this. 

Another factor to consider is the scale that measures from course to fine.  Yarns can be lab tested for microns, or the width of each strand.  Where a specific yarn falls on this scale indicates how comfortable that particular yarn will be next to your skin.  Our Dorset Downs (not to be confused with the meat sheep Dorsets) with their ultra fine fibres, provide a baby-soft yarn.  A Romney’s yarn is more course, making it good for sweaters and outer garments.  Which is good – who would want to cover up that sheen :>)