It was difficult to choose from all the classes and workshops available, but here is some of what we did...
- We both attended a class in parasite resistance and strategic deworming of sheep.
- Kelly attended a FAMACHA class and received his certification (FAMACHA is a technique of determining the worm load in an animal by comparing the color of its inner eyelid to a chart, thus determining if it should be dewormed or not)
- We both went to the "hall of breeds" exhibit to see all the different sheep varieties
- Kelly had a great time learning from the shearer after a demonstration of shearing
- Claire attended the "adding pizzazz to your yarn" class (I'll blog about that separately)
- Kelly attended a workshop on learning to judge sheep
- Claire visited the fiber vendors far too many times, but there were so many lovely things to touch and look at and buy!
- We met Jill from Blue Gate Farms in person! She's lots of fun and we really enjoyed spending time with her on Sunday afternoon!
- Kelly ate lamb burgers, lamb jerky and a lamb bratwurst. Claire didn't.
- Claire attended the "Spinning Woolen & Worsted Techniques" class
We started the class with raw Romney fleece. We learned to flick card (for those who didn't already know how) the fibers to open out the tips and make the fibers align together. Then, we took those fibers and spun them in the way that most spinners use, keeping our hands fairly close to the orifice and smoothing down the fibers as we spun, thus making what is referred to as a "worsted" yarn. In the picture below, the middle skein of brown yarn is that worsted yarn which I made from the raw fleece.The top skein in the picture above is a semi-worsted yarn. The difference between it, and the worsted yarn that we first made, is that the semi-worsted is made from wool roving. In roving, the fibers are somewhat meshed together, so that they are not all aligned in the same direction. We used a white Corriedale roving for that skein. Here is the closer picture of the semi-worsted skein on the bottom of the picture below, next to....something awful looking!
That awful looking stuff is my first attempt at true "woolen" yarn. The difference between spinning a woolen yarn is that you use what's called a "long draw" technique, which means that your hands are a long way from the spinning wheel orifice, and you do not touch and smooth down the fibers as you spin. So you're holding this hunk of fiber a long way away from the wheel and letting the spin travel up the line and just pinching near the top. This is not easy, my friends! That is why my above sample looks like something one of my chickens got into. How embarassing. Clearly, I need more practice with this technique! I think I need to "pre-draft" the fiber more before doing it again. Most of us in the class came to this realization - it is difficult to spin woolen without considerable pre-drafting. Pre-drafting means stretching out the fibers before you start to spin with them. The same corriedale roving was used for the woolen skein.Finally, we did a semi-woolen skein. In that case, we prepared the fiber as one would do for worsted (made all the fibers line up by flicking out the locks of raw fleece) but we spun as one would do for the woolen technique using the long draw. I actually really liked the yarn that I spun using that technique. You can see it in the picture below - it's the bottom skein. It has more texture to it and a more interesting character. The point of woolen yarns is that there is more air space spun into them and that should, in theory create a warmer yarn because it has more air pockets to hold warm air, such as in a hat or scarf, against the body. I will be trying some more work on semi-woolen yarns in future.
So, to summarize...
Worsted yarn - align fibers, use short draw, smoothing of fibers as spun
Semi-worsted yarn - not aligned fibers, use short draw, smoothing of fibers as spun
Semi-woolen yarn - aligned fibers, use long draw, no smoothing of fibers as spun
Woolen yarn - not aligned fibers, use long draw, no smoothing of fibers as spun
One of my upcoming blog posts will cover the yarns I made in the "Adding Pizzazz to Your Yarn" class, featuring Flash, soy silk, merino, tussah, and more!