handspun · spinning · yarn

local long-wool find.

First, thank you to everyone who replied to my last post about Charlotte, whether it was here, on Instagram or Twitter. She is doing well and seems to be back to herself — lots of energy, friendly and easy disposition, and eating well. She’s a trooper that one! Onto fibre-y goodness:

In my long wools study-quest, I have been looking on Etsy and the internets to see if I can find some roving from farms who are breed specific. Lo and behold, I found one just over the border in Washington. I ordered some Teeswater, a beautiful grey-silver crossbreed and a ‘mystery’. I was looking for specific colours: white/cream, light grey and black.

After chatting with Nan and explaining what I was looking for, she recommended the black roving for me, which came from sheep #245 “Docie”, who is a 2/3 Wensleydale, 1/3 Lincoln cross. Pretty cool to know exactly who and what the roving is that you are spinning, huh?! This ‘mystery’ roving was quite a treat to explore, let me tell you!

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It is so super dark … of course it is actually dark brown but in the world of fleece, this is described as ‘black’. Gorgeous, huh?

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This was much like spinning in the grease, which I’ve only done once and didn’t enjoy much at the time. This was a bit different: The roving was just that, roving. It was definitely ‘sheepy’ – I’ve had to really watch the dogs because they loooove it so much. It was very pleasant to spin though. I used my largest whorl (therefore, low twist) and kept my feet slow, which is sometimes hard when I’m spinning something new because I always want to treadle faster! I don’t know why … maybe because I’ve always been taught that twist is good?! haha

After I was finished spinning and plying, which was all done in about 3 hours (How fast is woollen spinning?! I love it.), I re-washed the yarn as if it was raw fleece. So the hottest tap water I could get (which in our house is pretty hot) with Sunlit detergent and I left it to soak for a while. It came out perfectly! There are guard hairs in it still but they are steadily falling out and I’ve been pulling at them when I look at the skein.It has a gorgeous lustre and slight halo that is so typical of the long wool breeds. These British long wool sheep are such a treat to have so close to home! We are planning to visit the farm next time we go down to Anacortes, WA.

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This turned out to be closer to an aran weight than a worsted but it was my first time spinning this incredibly long fibre. I did pre-draft the pencil roving a bit but next time, I think I’ll do that even more. I don’t have enough yardage to do what I was hoping but I’m contemplating changing my plan a bit. On a scale of 1-5, 5 being the absolute softest thing you’ve ever put next to your skin and 1 being prickly and uncomfortable, this is probably a 2-3. I’m not sure a shawl around my neck out of this is beckoning … and those who know me, know I have a very high tolerance to prickles!

I’m actually thinking this would be awesome mittens and once the other two are spun up, I’m thinking a gradient from light to dark (which was my original plan with the shawl idea). I would have enough for mittens for both M and I. Matching his and hers mittens? Yes, please! I also have some super soft left over ‘stuff’ from another project that could be a lining for increased warmth … hmmm …

How do you find local yarns and fleece? What had worked for you in the past to find local fibre? I’d love to hear!

13 thoughts on “local long-wool find.

  1. I’m in Alberta, Canada and have been using Custom Woolen Mills. It is awesome to have an actual mill an hour from home; they also do roving. They might be able to do specific wools so you might want to check them out just out of interest.

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      1. I just went to your page and saw that you are in Vancouver. We also have a place out on Pender Island, so I thought I would mention this, Talisman Books on Pender put out a note a couple of weeks ago looking for yarn makers as a potential exhibit for their gallery. I haven’t heard any more but the island tends to move slow. It might be worth following them on facebook as it might be a good opportunity to hook up with a more local supplier. I know at farmer’s market there have been sellers with their own fleece, roving and yarn. I would also google Saltspring for wool or yarn, they have a huge community of growers, makers and artists.

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        1. I’ll definitely look into the Pender Island. And yes, Saltspring is a great place to find all of this stuff! It’s just a matter of getting in a ferry — so we are planning a camping trip there this Spring.

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          1. I have been to Mayne but not for fibre recently — that’d another camping trip we have planned for this summer!! It’s just beautiful over there, huh?!

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          2. If you are going Gulf Island to Gulf Island get the BC Ferries experience pass as it will save you about 30% on the ferry price.

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          3. Ooh OK! We will look into that – I ant heard of that. We are going to Galiano as well and we are towing so that would help a lot with the cost! Thanks Deb!!

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  2. HI Rachel – just “eavesdropping” on your comments with Deb. We have a place on Saltspring and I’m a new member of their guild (but live in Van). I have been in contact with several spinners/farmers there. LMK if you want the contact info for some of these ladies or members of the guild. I have Romney, Icelandic and Cotswald from the island and could give you the farmers’ if you are interested in those breeds. Also, check out Elderberry Yarns in Ganges. Pat, the owner, is an avid spinner and farmer and often has a selection of prepped fleeces/roving, etc for sale. She’d be a great contact before your trip if you want more local advice! :) Lisa

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    1. Lisa – thank you so much!! I’ll email you as we start to organise our trip — this is really exciting for me that I’ll be able to get a bunch of stuff locally. There are some here that I’m finding out about, too, which is great.

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      1. What can you recommend locally, fleece-wise or prepped fibres? I know more about SS then here…any good local sources for Shetland, or another nice spinnable?

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        1. I’ve been doing research. I found a local Clun Forest flock, there is a Romney-Merino flock in Salmon Arm. I will get some specifics this weekend if you are interested. I have a few friends from guild who know where to to go!

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