Tag Archives: wool yarn

FibreTown Follows up on Jacob Roving

Emily Estrada of FibreTown, follows up on her January 30, 2013 about Meduseld’s Jacob roving.  She demonstrates the yarn and the wool hat that she has made out of the roving.   You see it in this podcast:

 FibreTown Podcast February 13, 2013

Emily discusses an upcoming prize give-away she will have when she reaches 100 members.  The prize will be Meduseld yarn.  Sincere thanks to Emily for telling everyone about our farm!

You can visit Emily’s blog at: http://fibretown.blogspot.com/, and you can find her on ravelry as chainoffools.

Here’s her St. Valentine’s Day greeting…

 

Chainoffools St. Valentine's Day Greeting

Chainoffools St. Valentine’s Day Greeting

We have added some more Romney roving to the store, as well as some 100 percent Romney in worsted weight.  These are soft, shiny, 200 yard skeins that weigh   3.5 oz (approx 100g) each, and are priced at only $15.00 per skein.  If you want to buy more than three skeins, please email and I will take off $1.50 per skein.  Click on the Meduseld Farm Store link to the right.

 

Romney yarn - 200 yard skeins

Romney yarn – 200 yard skeins

A few weeks ago, I showed everyone how to dye wool using Cushing Perfection Dyes.  One of the colors I used was a brilliant canary yellow, although they had it called “chartreuse.”  I had visions in my head of carding it with an aquamarine that I had done last year, and I thought that triple plying those would create a beautiful, springlike effect.  Well, no more….

My yarn!  Ahhhh!

My yarn! Ahhhh!

Yes!  My dog, Beowulf, had other ideas.  He took the bag of fleece off the front porch and dragged it out into the yard to play with!  Bad doggy! 

 Happy St. Valentine’s Day to everyone!

 

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 :>)