Dear friends, it has been a long while! I’ve been travelling and I have a lot to write about. I’ve had a big change in my paid work too, and it will mean I have more mental space and physical time for making and blogging, I hope. In the meantime, here is an update on the state of the tuffsock spinning project.
This post is part of the Tuff Socks Naturally project, an open, collaborative project exploring more sustainable alternatives to superwash and nylon in sock yarn. You can join in on the discussion on this blog or on the blog of the fabulous Rebecca at Needle and Spindle or on instagram using the hashtag #tuffsocksnaturally.
A little while back, a new vendor came to my Guild meeting. She brought braids of many different breeds, including some that are not readily available in Australia and many that are endangered. Well. Buying imported wool is not a decision I am going to try to defend. But I was so curious to try Southdown–and the Suffolk was entirely different to the local Kangaroo Island Suffolk I have been spinning. And I can only say that after all these years spinning I still have periods in which I think ‘preparing fibre that has been grown with no thought at all for a handspinner is not worth the effort!’ and others when I think: ‘local fleece is the only fleece I should ever spin!’ If you want consistency, my friends, go and read another blog, because you’re not going to find it here! I took these two braids home.
The Suffolk and silk blend spun up like a dream and I would not have guessed this was the same breed as the local Suffolk. Variability within breeds is only to be expected, but clearly the local sheep has been bred for meat, with its fleece being made into carpet if anything. Perhaps the UK Suffolk is still being bred for fleece quality. There may well be such Suffolks in Australia, if I knew where to find them. On the other hand, machine processing and the addition of silk have made the UK Suffolk less springy and bouncy than the local breed, which may mean it will be less durable at the same time as it is unequivocally finer and longer in staple.
The Southdown was also lovely to spin. So now I have two new experiment yarns in the tuffsock department, ready to knit. or perhaps to dye…