Notes on Wool: Sample #1

Through my Notes on Wool series, I explore various types of wool available in Morocco. As a new spinner, I am also using this opportunity to learn about the process of turning raw wool into yarn suitable for knitting (my preferred craft medium). What follows are the steps I took, their results, and my observations so that I don’t forget what I’ve learned.

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Approximately 600 grams of unknown fleece from a Moroccan couch maker located in Rabat’s Old City. He uses this wool to stuff the long, bench-like couches that flank living room walls.

 

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A close-up of the unknown wool. It appears to have been washed as it does not have a greasy feel and it is fairly free of debris. However, it still has bits of VM and possible feces and urine marks from the sheep. This is not a complete fleece and appears to be odds and ends mixed together.

 

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The staple length appears to be between 5.25 inches and 7.5 inches. The fibers appear to be quite smooth with very little to no crimp.

 

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After 3 to 4 passes through the combs, the fibers line up nicely and almost all of the VM is gone. I removed a few noils as I combed, but there remain a few. The combed wool has a rustically soft hand, and it feels quite fluffy.

 

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The combed top pulls through my makeshift diz fairly easily. The staple is fairly long, so I am able to pull in long-ish chunks.

 

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I encountered a couple of noils as I pulled the top through my diz. I carefully removed these to create as smooth a top as possible.

 

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A close-up of the combed top.

 

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I’m still new to spinning and am working on consistency. My preferred mode of spinning is park-and-draft. I used a top whorl Ashford spindle and a mostly worsted draft.

 

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I used very hot tap water with some dish soap in it to set the twist. There probably shouldn’t have been so many suds, but I think it worked, anyway. After filling up my wash basin, I placed the skein on top and allowed it to sink to the bottom of its own accord. Once on the bottom, I let it soak there a few minutes more. Then, I gently removed it from the bath, rinsed my sink out and filled it with very hot tap water. I let the skein soak in this for a few minutes before removing it, gently squeezing out the water, and then laying it out to dry.

 

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I used US 7 knitting needles to make a swatch.

 

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This swatch was soaked in cold water and gently pinned to dry. There are 15.5 stitches in 4 inches and 23 rows in 4 inches. It has an overall fuzzy halo, and the feel is rustic but soft. It is less scratchy than Icelandic wool and could be worn next bare skin on your arm. I wore it tucked into the collar of my shirt for half an hour and did not notice it too much.

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