Here's a family photo of the breeds I've finished so far:
|L to R: Polwarth, Finnish, Black Jacob, Bluefaced Leicester, Cormo|
|Photo from the Icelandic Sheep Breeders of North America webpage.|
They are characterized by a naturally short tail, a dual-coated fleece, faces and legs that are free of wool, and apparently very tasty mild-flavored meat. The outercoat consists of long, strong fibers called tog and the undercoat consists of short, soft fibers called thel. Both types of fiber are used for spinning and they can be prepared to be spun together or separately.
The top I have appears to consist entirely of tog, the outer layer. The staple length is long, and can range from 4-18(!) inches. The micron count ranges from 27-31, landing this on the coarser side of the medium range. This is another fiber that feels more hair-like than wool-like, but it is still a true wool (meaning it contains crimp which makes it elastic), not a kemp or guard hair. This fiber drafts extremely easily and in that sense is a pleasure to spin. Despite that, I'm not a huge fan of how it spins up. Too many ends sticking out! Prickly-town, people!
|Please excuse my messily-wound cop. I had just dropped it and things got all loose and crazy.|
As a quick refresher: woolen spinning means that the fibers are not perfectly aligned, they go in all sorts of directions trapping air between them and resulting in a fluffier yarn. Spinning from the fold creates this misalignment of fibers for me. Worsted spinning means that the fibers are lined up nice and straight before spinning and are spun end-to-end with little overlap, producing a denser and potentially smoother yarn.
How do you tend to spin?