Our friend John Crane gathered 70 fleeces of breed specific sheep to learn more about the characteristics of each animal’s fiber. He cleaned, carded and handspun small amounts of each fleece so that he could knit up a swatch that could showcase their unique beauty. The full collection clearly illustrates how different wool can be!
Last weekend at the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival in Deerfield, NH, the entire exhibit was on display. The 70 samples have been sorted into 5 classes with distinct attributes and the display is a thing of wonder. We were not the only ones delighted by what John’s curiosity inspired.
As an exciting culimation to the project, several months ago John let us spin his collection of breed specific fleeces into five different undyed yarns. These skeins allow you to get hands on experience with each type of fiber: Heritage Wool, Down Wool, Medium Wool, Fine Wool and Long Wool. (from left to right as shown below).
You’ll find limited quantities of all five of these yarns in our Limited Edition section of the website. These skeins are unicorns of a sort. We’re not likely to receive such a bounty of unusual fibers to be spun together ever again. So act fast to ensure you’re able to enjoy a project’s quantity of the one(s) that strike your fancy!
So let’s take a closer look at each one.
This 100% sheep’s wool yarn blends multiple heritage wool breeds sourced worldwide. Heritage fleeces come from sheep breeds that have developed in geographic isolation over a long period of time. Typically they are dual-coated with a soft insulating undercoat and a coarser outer coat for protection. This Aran weight yarn is perfect for durable outerwear (think sweaters and vests) that will last for generations.
100% Undyed Heritage Wool This yarn blends fiber from these Heritage Wool breeds: Badger Face Welsh Mountain, Black Welsh Mountain, Border Cheviot, Gulf Coast Native, Hog Island, Jacob, Manx Loaghtan, Old Norwegian, Portland, Romanov, Scottish Blackface, and Shetland. These skeins are 3-ply Aran Weight, 1.75 oz Approx 96 yds.
This 100% sheeps wool yarn blends multiple down wool breeds sourced worldwide. Down wool fleeces typically have dense, blocky locks with disorganized crimp and excellent insulating qualities. This worsted weight yarn is perfect for soft squishy extra warm garments.
100% Undyed Down Wool This yarn blends fiber from these Down Wool breeds: Charollais, Clun Forest, Dorset, East Friesian, Eider, Hampshire Down, Harlequin, Oxford, Ryeland, Shropshire, Southdown ‘babydoll’, and Suffolk. These skeins are 3 strand single ply Worsted Weight, 2 oz Approx 140 yds.
This 100% sheep’s wool yarn blends multiple medium wool breeds sourced worldwide. Medium wool fleeces typically have fibers 3 to 4 inches long and 25 – 30 microns in diameter. They produce excellent ‘sweater wool’ that is soft enough to be comfortable and strong enough to wear well.
100% Undyed Medium Wool This yarn blends fiber from these Medium Wool breeds: Beltex, California Red, Columbia, Corriedale, Finn, Ile de France, Montadale, Polypay Rouge de Roussillon, Texel, Tunis, and Zwarbles. These skeins are 2 ply DK Weight, 2 oz Approx 180 yds.
This 100% sheeps wool yarn blends multiple fine wool breeds sourced worldwide. Fine wool fleeces typically have very fine, tight, and well defined crimp with individual fibers less than 25 microns in diameter. This fingering weight yarn is perfect for shawls, scarves, gloves and other luxuriously soft next-to-skin garments.
100% Undyed Fine Wool This yarn blends fiber from these Fine wool breeds: Bond, CVM, Merino, Rambouillet, and Targhee. These skeins are 2-ply Fingering Weight, 3.5 oz Approx 400 yds
This 100% sheep’s wool yarn blends multiple long wool breeds sourced worldwide. Long wool fleeces typically have wavy, curly, lustrous locks rather than tight crimp. They take dye almost like silk. This fingering weight yarn is perfect for shawls, scarves, lacework, and other garments where drape is important.
100% Undyed Long Wool This yarn blends fiber from these Long Wool breeds: Bluefaced Leicester, Border Leicester, Coopworth, Perendale, Romney. These skeins are Single ply Fingering Weight, 3.25 oz Approx 400 yds.
John’s exhibit will be travelling around the country in upcoming months. For those of you in the DC area, you’ll be able to find John and his collection at a special event on June 23rd hosted by Solitude Wool and Fibernate. More details and registration can be found here!
We hope that you’ll be able to see the collection and hear him speak about what he learned along the way. What fun would it be if you have a handcrafted item made with one of these yarns to share with him when the exhibit travels to a spot near you!?