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Deb Robson and Tussah

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for the sheep!

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« UK visa requirements for people like me who might want to teach a fiber workshop, as far as I can understand them | Main | UK visa saga, continuing »

December 19, 2012


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Yet another amazing discovery! How on earth do doll makers and wig makers know about this kind of sheep, and the best informed handspinner I know (you), doesn't? Good to keep an open mind and ear to other artists and crafts.

May I throw in a question for the next Q and A, if you think it's of any general interest? Judith McKenzie says, in her DVD on Spinning Exotic Fibers, that alpaca doesn't have crimp. Hmmmm. I have a couple of alpaca fleeces, both from first shearings, that show what I would call crimp. A friend who has alpacas says there's a difference between crimp and "crinkle", but she sent me a photo of one of her fleeces that shows what I would call crimp.

Maybe I can't use the sheep's-fleece terminology for other species. Have you seen alpaca fleece with crimp, and is that really crimp?

Also, FYI, the Large Animal Research Station at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks has added an on-line shopping cart for their qiviut products. See the homepage at www.uaf.edu/lars All proceeds return to the program to support the muskoxen, caribou, and reindeer. (I'm not affiliated with them, it happens that I love qiviut and I like to think I support the animals.)

Thank you for everything, Deb.

Deb Robson

Hi, Meg! Doll makers and wig makers know about this type of sheep because its especially well suited to their craft, and its available through the suppliers they order from. I didnt know about it because its not a fiber that fit our primary criterion for inclusion in The Fleece Fiber Sourcebook: readily available to English-speaking spinners and fiber folk. There are about a thousand breeds of sheep (Im working on getting a good number for that, but as you might imagine its not a quick job). Many of them dont get into our supply channels.

Sure, youre welcome to throw in a question. I actually have a line-up of them. I realized that I was spending a fair amount of time answering questions, and that other people might be interested. I dont know how quickly Ill get to answering: it does take time.

Ive done a bunch of reading on alpaca and crimp, but not enough to make my own statements about it yet. A definition of crimp needs to precede any other discussion, and the definition may depend on the context.Even in sheep, determining how crimp forms as the fiber grows is an unanswered question so far. There are very compelling and detailed theories, but no certainty.

Two people who have thought about crimp in alpacas more than most are Eric Hoffman, author of The Complete Alpaca Book (which I have had from interlibrary loan but dont own a copy of), and Mike Safley, who has published a lot of his thoughts at his Northwest Alpacas site (example: http://alpacas.com/alpacalibrary/caseforcrimp.aspx). A real understanding of the topic would require me to dig into South American, especially Peruvian, sources as well.

Thats terrific news about qiviut availability from LARS! They have lovely stuff, and its a good outfit to be able to support.

Thanks for being there, Meg.

Deb Robson

Here's a note I received this morning from a friend via e-mail, which I've edited to exclude most personal details (which do offer further credentials--!) and to include just the essence:
"Son . . . came home for Christmas yesterday. . . . [He] has a degree in Tibetan which naturally involved cultural studies. He . . . studied for a year at the Tibetan college in exile in Darjeeling and [has also] travelled [in the area]. . . . [H]is comment was that it would be culturally almost unheard of for a Tibetan to kill any animal for its pelt. . . . Animals are virtually only ever killed for necessary food. In fact, even then they tend to feel so bad about it that they . . . will ask [others] . . . to do it for them."

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