Thursday, August 27, 2015

What Can Corriedale Do For Me?

Corriedale is a wonderful mid-grade wool that can do just about anything...that is, if you can find the right Corriedale. "Corriedale" is commonly found (cheaply) at yarn stores and is absolutely fantastic for sweaters, hats, scarves, mittens...just about everything. But Corriedale has a wonderful range of micron counts, if you have the chance to pick a raw fleece. It can range from the low 20s to the low/mid 30s, but generally falls in the 25-29 micron range.  It's a strong, sturdy wool that is extremely greasy--but that shouldn't make you run away, screaming. Where am I going with this? Corriedale has more versatility than one would realize at first.

If you don't know much about Corriedale, you're welcome to watch the video I made recently to catch you up to speed:

Now that I've had the chance to spin Corriedale myself, I now look at commercially prepared Corriedale top and yarns differently. Whenever you use a commercially prepared top of a specific breed, it represents the average qualities of that breed. For breeds like merino, there are many categories of top which you can find available: 23 micron, 21 micron (fine), 18.5 micron (superfine). But there aren't such categories with Corriedale, which is a breed that could use fineness divisions. I'm not looking to change how mills divide up Corriedale--there just isn't the demand nor the significant amounts of Corriedale to justify such a change-- but as spinners, we ought to be aware of the incredible resource we have available to play with.

Remember when I mentioned that I kept more lanolin on my Corriedale than I typically do? It made for smooth spinning and it helped me keep the fly-aways in check as I was spinning a true worsted yarn. But I wasn't sure how I felt about keeping all of that lanolin in the final yarn--it was fine for spinning, but the yarn was stiff (which might be fantastic for weaving yarns!) and felt slightly tacky. Because lanolin has a yellow-ish tint, it will change the color of the yarn, and it'll prevent the effective take-up of dye by the yarn; both things are worth keeping in mind. After spinning up my Corriedale batt into a worsted-ish 2-ply, I decided to go ahead and test it by scouring it. Turns out, you can scour a yarn just like you would scour a raw fleece. The yarn bloomed as expected, but the fly-aways were still reduced than they might have been otherwise. I'm going to scour my true worsted yarn now that I've proven to myself that it can be done, and with great results.

Corriedale has a lot of potential and there is a lot of variety. Between the micron count, easy processing, and smooth spinning, it could be just about anything you want, if you find the right fleece. What's your experience with Corriedale? Post in the comments below!