Introduction to My 2023 Sheep Fibre Study - Spinning, Knitting & Dyeing different sheep breed wool

Introduction to My 2023 Sheep Fibre Study - Spinning, Knitting & Dyeing different sheep breed wool

Last year while traveling around Australia in our caravan, I decided to make use of some extra time to learn more about my craft of dyeing yarn and the fibres themselves. I enrolled in the 'Wool Appreciation Course' and 'The Dyeing of Wool' course through Woolmark Australia. Even though I have been an indie dyer for 15 years I find there is always something more to learn.

I also had more time to focus on spinning and I was able to pack my EEW 6.0 (Electric Eel Wheel 6.0) spinning wheel, battery, foot petal, fibre, a small camping table and everything else that I needed for spinning, into a sewing machine case I bought at Lincraft. This fit nicely behind the drivers seat in our car and was much easier than taking along my Ashford Traveler full size wheel.

Earler this year I noticed that a couple of online fibre friends were embarking on a Sheep Breed Fibre study and they asked me to join them. As I had already bought a selection of fibre samples about 6 or 7 years ago and never found the time to spin them while dyeing yarn and operating an online shop full time, I jumped at the chance. Everything is always more fun with others right? And our online fibre arts community is just so lovely.

So I'm doing this! Combining and expanding on the two skill sets from last year and exploring the world of different sheep breeds and their fibre. Another couple of spinners have joined us since then and we now have a lovely little group of five of us all doing this together, sharing our thoughts and experience of each fibre and interesting facts we have discovered about the sheep breed itself. We have all decided to spin the same breed fibre each week and compare notes. 

While each of our studies may look a little different I am planning on spinning, knitting and of course dyeing each one and also exploring information on the sheep breeds themselves, which country they are from, peculiarities of the breed, whether they are endangered and are considered a conservation breed, what purpose they are bred for, the use of their wool and the history of the breed.

I am going to try to document my experiences here weekly for anyone who is interested in following along. I have 50+ samples of different sheep breed fibres to explore so this will be a year long study as a minimum but with over 1400 different sheep breeds worldwide, even a year is only scratching the surface.

We are using the 'Fleece and Fibre Sourcebook' by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius, as our main point of reference and if you are interested in doing something like this yourself I highly recommend this book. I am also working through the School of Sweet Georgia 'Spinning Sheep Breeds' course and watching videos of others who have also done a similar study before me. Spin Off magazine has also been a useful resource.

We have decided to spin through the Fine Wool first. To categorise these we are choosing fibres that have a micron count between 15 - 24 and a staple length of between 5 to 17.5 cm in length. We are starting with Falkland then Merino, Polwarth, Rambouillet and more. There are 9 breeds in the fine wool study section and so for the first 9 weeks I will focus on these breeds in my (hopefully) weekly blog.

Read on to the next blog to learn more about my experiences with Falkland Sheep.

Happy Crafting


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1 comment

It sounds like you are off to a fun and fabulous start Cheryl. It will be wonderful to learn along with you 🤍

Kim Smith

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