Monday, February 24, 2014

Mini Fiber Review: Romney Wool

Way back when, I used to write up these mini fiber reviews. They were little snippets about my own observations about various types of wool, and they are not designed to tell you everything about the animal, breed, fleece, spinning techniques, etc. These little nuggets are easy to digest and are wonderful to look at. :) If I find some more time, I'll start doing these mini fiber reviews again--it's a great way to get me to write my thoughts down on paper so I don't forget things!

Originally posted on June 7, 2012:

Onto the mini review!

Romney was my new favorite fiber discovery last May. It has the potential to be very soft (especially in cross breeds), and is quite durable in my experience. It felts nicely, and often has a long staple length. In terms of coarseness, it falls into the medium to coarse category, depending on the individual animal. I'm not going to go into details about the breed, how to spin it, what it's used for, because 1) there are way more people out there who really know what they're talking about; and 2) I don't want to limit the ideas of creative people--I mean, I could tell you romney isn't good for neck items, except I would be ignoring the fact that I have some moorit romney that rivals the softness of merino!

All I want to do is show you what I did, what I like about it, and give you high quality pictures. So, with that, let's bring on the locks!:

They have beautiful crimp, and a fair amount of sheen too. These locks were very easy to clean, and though they remain in a decent lock structure, no lanolin got stuck in the cleaning process. I made 3 samples, and recorded the info onto a 3x5 card cut in half. This is a great way to keep your samples together and identified, by the way (voice of experience).

The first sample I made was a true worsted single that I plied on itself. I arranged the romney locks into a bundle and brushed out both ends with a dog brush while keeping the fibers all going the exact same direction. I drafted them out and spun for a worsted 2-ply.

The second sample is a long-draw woolen worsted 2-ply. I'm still getting the hang of the long-draw method, but I think this worked out well. I brushed the locks as I did for the worsted method above, though before spinning, I folded the locks over my finger and drew from the center of the fiber as opposed to the end of the fiber. This creates a corkscrew effect in the yarn which traps air and adds loft.

In the close-up pictures, you can discern the slight fuzzy texture of the woolen spun yarn versus the worsted spun yarn, a fact to be taken into consideration when you need a specific yarn for a specific project. The last sample is a generally worsted, navajo 3-ply yarn. I say "generally worsted" to signify that I hand blended the fibers before spinning, so there may be some fibers folded over on themselves.

I really like romney, and I think it has way more uses than most people want to give it. Yes, it makes great durable items like hiking socks and market bags, but it can also lend strength and shine to less stable fibers too. Experiment. There are surprising advantages to having a bit of romney in your mix!