Ponyo's Wool and More Fun With Santa Cruz Island Yarn

Post date: Aug 12, 2016 7:7:3 PM

Disclosure: This is about wool, spinning, and knitting! There is one photo of sheep at the very end.

It is my custom, usually, to keep the first shearing of a lamb that we are keeping, and I decided to keep Ponyo's wool (and Ponyo) and process it myself. Surprisingly, after her first shearing, the wool is variegated, by that I mean each fiber is brown at the root (cut end), changes to pale gray, then is brown at the tip, with a little sun-lightening at the very tip end. The staple is short, between one and two inches on average, and it is very soft and crimpy with a very fine crimp (high frequency, low amplitude if you think of the crimp as a wave form). Photo below, before scouring. I had a wool judge tell me once, a few years ago, that when wool changes color like that it usually is due to a mineral deficiency, but Ponyo is big and strong, and otherwise so healthy, along with the other sheep, I don't think she had a mineral deficiency during her first year. There weren't any weak places in the wool. Change from a milk diet to a hay/grazing diet? Maybe. All our other lambs are white, and you wouldn't notice a color change like this in white wool. Whatever, I loved this wool and pictured knitting a t-shirt out of it.

I knew carding it would tend to homogenize the colors, and it did, and that was OK with me. It carded beautifully on the sample card. I spun and spun, and plied it into 2-ply yarn, about 14 wraps per inch. I sent a skein of it to the Monterey County Fair Wool Show for judging, along with a skein of white Santa Cruz Island yarn and a skein of llama yarn. The rest, I am knitting. And they better give me back my yarn when the fair is over!

Here is the wool scoured, picked, and on the intake tray of the sample card.

Above is some carded wool, and below are a couple skeins of yarn.

Here are a couple swatches - actually the same swatch, the left one in progress with stockinette stitch throughout, and the right photo with some experimentation with other stitches - garter, seed stitch, and stockinette with yarnover holes, can't exactly call it lace. I decided to stick with stockinette, so that the yarn itself is the focus, on US number 8 needles so the fabric isn't too dense or thick. The shirt itself will have very simple shaping, and it is in progress now.

Above, is a photo of Ponyo with some other Santa Cruz Island sheep, dining on buckwheat - this was taken last winter.