Remember the giant box of fiber I received from Louet?
Last weekend, I began working through it! I started with some Perendale fiber, since I’d never heard of the breed before. The Perendale is part of their Canterbury Prize Wools group. Here’s the website description about the group:
Working with Wadsworth Heap Ltd, a fiber supplier in New Zealand, each fleece in this line is grown with passion and great care; each is chosen with a critical eye, scoured in a modern scouring plant, and carded with pride on gentle machinery to maintain the fibre’s integrity and give spinners maximum enjoyment.
The fiber is a carded preparation (so it’s roving or sliver, where the fibers are arranged every-which-way, rather than combed top) and ships in generous 8 oz. bags. My bag contained a slip of paper describing its origin:
I love that I know where this wool came from and who grew it, even though I accessed it through a major distributor. I really appreciate the respect to the wool’s origins that the Canterbury group shows. Also, you really can’t beat the price. Each half pound bag is only $16. That’s a lot of really well-prepared wool for the price!
Perendale sheep are a cross between the Romney and Cheviot breeds, developed in New Zealand. As such, they have longwool roots but fall under the ‘other sheep breeds’ category in the Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook. What I find really fascinating is that I wasn’t super enthusiastic about either Romney or Cheviot when I spun them for my Spinner’s Study, but I really enjoyed spinning the Perendale fiber.
After a few minutes of attempting to spin this preparation worsted-style (short forward draw), I gave up and decided to practice my woolen-style drafting (long-draw) instead. The prep pretty much begged for woolen spinning, and it did not disappoint.
I don’t usually spin this way on the wheel, but it went really smoothly once I got into a rhythm. (Oddly enough, I tend to spin semi-woolen on my spindles as I often spin combed top from the fold for easier drafting.) Woolen spinning creates lofty, springy, fuzzy yarns with lots of air trapped in the singles.
I must have been in an adventurous mood because besides trying out new drafting techniques, I also decided to conduct a twist experiment. Yarns can have either S twist or Z twist depending on the direction in which they were spun. I’ve read that most commercial yarns are spun so that they are plied with S twist and that the action of knitting or crocheting adds or removes twist depending on whether the yarns have S or Z twist. Because my wheel feels better spinning counterclockwise (S twist), I tend to ply my yarns clockwise (because you ply for less time than you spin) producing Z twist yarns when I spin on my wheel. I decided to see if I could really tell the difference between S & Z twist yarns when spinning and knitting.
So I took 2 oz of fiber, split it into fourths, and spun 2 singles with S twist and 2 singles with Z twist to create 2 little 2-ply skeins: one plied Z and the other plied S. Then I got really curious and thought ‘I wonder what an opposing yarn ply would feel like?’ and spun some of those, too.
Opposing ply yarns are composed of singles that have the opposite direction of twist, plied together one way or the other. So I took 1 S and 1 Z single and plied them together in both the Z direction and S direction. Opposing ply yarns are super bouncy and elastic and I think I really like them, though I’m withholding judgement until after I finish knitting my swatches.
So yes, this is what happens when a scientist gets a new type of fiber to play with. 🙂 Stay tuned for the results and conclusions. In the meantime, LET’S HAVE A GIVEAWAY!
If you’d like to win your very own 1/2 pound bag of Louet Perendale fiber, leave a comment below telling me how you like to spin your yarns (S or Z? Clockwise, counterclockwise, unsure?). Each comment gains you one entry, and if you share this post via Twitter, Facebook, or on your own blog, let me know and you’ll earn extra entries. I’ll choose a winner with a random number generator on Friday, May 2nd so you have until 11:59 pm Eastern time the day before to enter. Good luck, and please spread the word!