Tuffsock spinning

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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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7 Comments

Filed under Spinning

7 responses to “Tuffsock spinning

  1. Penelope

    Are the braids from Luba Chambers? I bought some delicious rolags from her at the Bendigo wool show. For me, there is a balance to be found in supporting Australian wool farmers, supporting local fibre businesses and supporting rare breeds – sometimes one purchase can manage all three, but not always.

    Right now I’m spinning a delicious braid of imported rare-breed Hog Island fibre, hand-dyed by Charly McCafferty (Ixchel Fibres). It’s very sproingy, so I’m hoping it will make some suitably tough socks (although sadly I only have three bobbins so I can only do a high-twist two ply).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Penelope, yes, I think that’s the person (different family name on the site but probably still the same person). https://www.etsy.com/shop/handcraftedgifts. I agree there is a balance to be struck–and thank you for being so kind about my struggles with this question! Your planned socks sound awesome–Hog Island is something I have never tried–but Ixchel is another small seller I’ve supported over time and she creates and sells some beautiful fibres! Is there any way to get another bobbin or is your wheel just that one-of-a-kind? I belong to a Guild where all kinds of random bobbins show up.

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  2. Rebecca

    To be entirely consistent in our actions would be to become rigid and predictable, art and discovery lie in the contradictions and i think this exploration is fascinating. It makes me want to dive into an international suffolk comparison drawn from meat flocks and handspinnjng flocks…what would we find? What might be the fibre potential of suffolk? I think you’ve found a rabbit hole!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rebecca, you are so wise and so generous! Thanks for these thoughts… I have also wondered about how different Suffolks might be faring–and feel sure there are finer fleeces to be had even within Australia…

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  3. I’m intrigued re paid work, and ever so slightly jealous!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I for one am a keen supporter of your experiments…and my feet send their gratitude !

    Liked by 1 person

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