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Deb Robson and Tussah

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« On spinning equipment | Main | Things I know about spinning that I don't know I know »

March 26, 2009


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Ellen Bloomfield

Deb, I'm with you, I think its wool from the Suffolk area of England.

A couple weekends ago I had a discussion with Judith Mackenzie McCuin about what exactly is sold as "Shetland" wool. She stated that most of the shetland sold is actually a down breed. I concur, especially since down breeds, mainly cheviots I believe, were bred to the native shetland sheep to "improve them". Many shetlands you find today reflect more of the down characteristics rather than the dual coated characteristics.

Linda Cunningham

It's pretty though, even if it has about as much resemblance to Suffolk as I have to Tyra Banks.... And as lovely as those rolags are, I kept thinking "wow, this is going to be an interesting disaster." :-)

Your bunnies are way ahead of ours too -- all the ones I've seen in the wild are still white with black tips on their ears.


Nice combs....
And when I clicked over to your blog and saw your photo the first thing I thought was Swaledale. I have some processed Swaledale from Louet in the shop if you want me to send you a bit for comparison.

Also, nice rock.

donna Druchunas

I'm so glad you got to go on a retreat to work on this project!


Too bad there's no CSI for spinners you could get it's DNA analyzed :-). How lovely to be snowed in with all that spinning. Enjoy!

Deb Robson

Yeah, I've seen "Shetland" called a "Down" breed, and that's just nuts.

In putting that "Suffolk" through its paces, I kept thinking of new spinners who probably wouldn't have seen or worked with a real Suffolk and the potential long-term confusion this label could produce. Thus the post. . . .

The next question is: do they grow wool like this in Suffolk? I haven't a clue. I've never been to the British Isles at all (alas).

Deb Robson

Linda, I'm laughing at your "this is going to be an interesting disaster" comment. Most of this project feels that way . . . for many reasons. I keep thinking, "I'M NUTS." Followed by, "Just do the next piece of work. You have a deadline. It is an absurd deadline, but it is *your* deadline. Go."

Deb Robson

Beth, how about *I* send *you* some of this "Suffolk"? I have some of the Louet Swaledale, but not up here on the mountain.

Nice combs is right. St. Blaise two-row.

Deb Robson

Thanks. **Me, too.** Progress is slower than I wish even here, but *so* much faster than at home! I'm not even letting myself read the book about Roger Tory Peterson I brought along. It's all wool, all the time.


I think using the needle gauge as a diz is a great idea,,,

Deb Robson

There's very cool DNA stuff going on in some parts of the fiber world. I'm ready for more news about what's being learned! I'd watch a Fiber CSI.

Deb Robson

I'm glad I forgot the real ones. It's perfect.


Did you get that from the UK? Because I've been depending on UK sellers to know their sheep better than farmers do in the US; I'm often reminded of the South American shepherds quoted in Wild Fibers or SpinOff who, when asked what kind of sheep they raise, look blank for a moment and then answer "White ones."

And I was thinking Karakul or Gotland, but I'll run with the herd and vote Swaledale.

Deb Robson

I got it from a US seller, but it looks *exactly* like what is online at UK's World of Wool, and I expect (based on where slivers are coming from these days) that it's UK-origin.

It's not Karakul or Gotland; I've spun a lot of both--they're some of my favorite wools, in general. (I'm keeping warm up here in the mountains in a ruana that has a woolen-spun Gotland weft . . . hmmm, and I think I remember, although it was made a gazillion years ago, that I may have used a Suffolk warp . . . that would be ironic if I'm remembering correctly!)


I'm late on the discussion here. I too have spun a lot of Suffolk, and that's just not it. :) I think though that I have encountered kemp in Suffolk fleeces. Towards the hind end of the sheep--obviously and I remember it being crinkly wiry white hair. It is possible it came from a cross-bred approach to building meat production--bred with some hair sheep, perhaps.

Deb Robson

Joanne, yep, I'm with you on some kemp in some Suffolk britch wool. It'd have to be *everywhere* to produce sliver like this!

Linda Cunningham

I carded some Lincoln Longwool when I was just starting out. Looked gorgeous on the cards, felt fabulous as rolags.

Discovered many new combinations of obscenities when I tried to spin it.... ;-)

But "interesting disasters" have been some of the best learning experiences I've ever had -- former spouses included.

Deb Robson

As long as you don't try to spin the longwool rolags with a long draw, it can work. Short backward draw (whatever that means; I'll demo some time) works nicely. Now, how would I know that?


I think you have either Swaledale or Herdwick sliver there - certainly not Suffolk nor anything like. Of course, there are all sorts of crosses out there (I googled it and found someone in the US who's crossed Herdwick with Suffolk) but perhaps not enough for commercial processing. I like think I know my British breeds...

Freyalyn (in Yorkshire, UK).

Deb Robson

Thanks so much for checking in from the UK, Freyalyn. I wondered about Herdwick as well, but this feels different from the Herdwick I've encountered (impossible to tell from a photo, of course). Not that all Herdwicks are alike, of course, and variability is part of the challenge of this game.

We're on the same wavelength for types of wool.

NOT Suffolk!

Karen Frisa

When I worked for Beth B-R at Knitting Traditions, we imported a breed-specific yarn from the UK called Suffolk which was light gray, so I always assumed Suffolk sheep came in that color. Here's a link to our supplier: http://www.britishwool.com/pure_new_wools.htm. I'm fascinated and enlightened by the discussion here!

Deb Robson

This stuff *is* truly fascinating.

My understanding is that the black-faced (and -legged) sheep are more likely to have genes that will let them produce gray or black wool. It's pretty diligently guarded against in meat-producing flocks. I'm slightly familiar with that light-gray yarn, which is crisp but not *rough*, which is how I'd characterize this sliver.

Thanks for the link and the commentary. If we continue to surround this thing, we may get it tamed.

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