Experiments in spinning: the Black Welsh Mountain project

In October, my friend Eddie and I acquired a bag full of Black Welsh Mountain fiber from the local farmers’ market, and divided the loot between the two of us. I don’t think it was a full fleece to start with, but rather bits of several fleeces. There is some VM in the fleece, and it’s a bit dusty, but it’s really not too bad at all, it seems to have quite a bit of lanolin and the glorious smell of sheep. Taking pictures of the fibre and colour has been quite difficult as the winter light is not playing nice, and the flash just gives it brown overtones which are not as present in natural light.

Black Welsh Mountain fibre

Since this is my first batch of fibres unprepped – until now I’d only spun combed tops – I’ve decided to do a little experiment on the different prepping techniques and their effects on the spinning and on the finished yarn. I’m also taking a lot of great advice from Ravelry, there’s a whole thread on Black Welsh Mountain in the group ‘A Spinner’s Study’.

Being unsure of how to best go about washing Black Welsh Mountain and prep it, I started carding and spinning in the grease. So far, so good I think. My carding technique still needs improving: I keep finding little knots in the fibres in my rolags and I’m thinking deficient carding might be the cause… time will tell.

Black Welsh Mountain, being spun in the grease on a drop spindle

I’m also impatient to start washing some batches of the fibres to see how different they’ll be to spin, and I was waiting for a nice sunny day to do that in the garden… Seeing the snow in the garden the past month has made me realise this might not be the best time of year for it. Having to wash the fibres and dry them indoors gives me one more reason to do it in small batches and try different things out.

Between acquiring the Black Welsh Mountain and starting spinning it I also decided to take part in the SpinDoctor Wool Breed Challenge. Since Black Welsh Mountain is classified as a ‘recovering breed’ by the American Livestock Breed Conservancy, it will count for 2 points once spun and plied.

What’s your favorite fibre prep method? I’m itching to try as many as possible.

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