The Practical Spinner’s Guide – Wool PDF, MOBI by Kate Larson


The Practical Spinner’s Guide – Wool

by Kate Larson

The Practical Spinner's Guide_ Wool



Chapter One: Wool—Ubiquitous and Enduring

What Is Wool?

Wool Growth

Measurement Systems

The Fine Art of Fleece Selection

Diversity of Breeds

Northern European Short-Tail Sheep

Longwool Sheep

Down-Type Sheep

Medium-Wool Sheep

Fine-Wool Sheep

Working with Wool: Unst Jumper

Chapter Two: From Raw Fleece to Rolag:

Preparing Fiber for Spinning

Skirting and Sorting Fleeces

Next Steps

Washing Wool

Preparing Fleece for Spinning


Flick Carding and Combing Locks

Blending Colors and Nonwool Fibers

Intentional Processing

Working with Wool: Golden Hour Bag

Chapter Three: Working with Prepared Fibers

Purchasing Prepared Fibers—What’s Available?

Common Problems with Prepared Fibers

Custom Woolen Mills

Working with Wool: Norwegian-Inspired Embroidered Mitts

Chapter Four: Spinning Wool

Woolen and Worsted—A Continuum

Worsted Spinning

Woolen Spinning

Semiwoolen, Semiworsted, Semi-Something . . .


Finishing Yarns

Sampling: Quick and Consistent

Working with Wool: Among the Birches Cowl

Chapter Five: Living with Wool



Managing and Preventing Infestations


Further Reading

Photo Credits & Fiber Directory

On a frigid January morning when I was three years old, my father took me to the barn to see a new lamb, born overnight. I vividly remember sitting in the lambing pen in my blue snowsuit, nose to nose with my new friend. As we stared at each other, eager for the experience of first contact, I felt a recognition and a connection that have stayed with me through my life. Sheep are my home.

Many researchers believe that sheep (Ovis aries) have been domesticated for about 9,000 years. While discussions about domestication often focus on the impact of human selection upon various animals and plants, this symbiotic relationship in fact runs both ways, causing humans to adapt as well. We have been changed by our relationship with sheep. The process of domestication is more than just taming; it involves imprinting—a rapid form of learning.

Imprinting occurs early in life and at critical stages of development, creating associations, behaviors, and even the foundations of identity. Animals and humans are imprinted by one another and the environment in which they live. We humans have a wonderfully symbiotic relationship with domesticated sheep. We can offer them protection and food, while they can provide us with many of the raw materials we need to survive: meat and milk for nourishment; wool for clothing, blankets, and shelters; horn and bone for tools and ornaments; and an outlet for our deeply human need for creative self expression.

The image that often springs to mind here is of a cozy sweater, but human ingenuity has found an awesome range of uses for wool and other sheep products. Boats fitted with woolen sails allowed people to travel farther and faster in ancient times. Woolen pile carpets from Turkey and medieval woven tapestries from France were highly valued for the warmth and cheer they added to indoor spaces. Fragments of woolen garments and other textiles are found in Viking graveyards. Even sheepskin has been an important sheep product in the past, used to make a variety of things including parchment. The Dead Sea Scrolls and the copies of the Magna Carta still in existence were written on sheepskin parchment that had been carefully stretched, dried, and shaved.

When managed well, sheep can also help us to improve the agricultural spaces we inhabit. Sheep are ruminants, which means they have complex digestive systems that can digest plant matter more efficiently than humans can, allowing them to make use of the landscape in ways that we cannot by converting grasses and woody plants into meat and wool. The valuable manure they leave behind while grazing improves soil, which may later be used to grow crops. Beyond just being a convenient resource, sheep have been partners with humans in creating thriving, diverse agricultural ecosystems.

Handspinning, for me, is a way to explore and savor this connection to the animal and to the land. Even after growing up on a sheep farm and visiting flocks in a number of countries, I have never lost my sense of wonder at the singular relationship that exists between sheep and humans. Like so many who came before me, I began my life imprinted with the sense of mutual benefit and companionship a life with sheep can afford. Whether you are raising your own flock or learning more about sheep and wool far from any fields or pastures, creating woolen textiles is a link to an important piece of human history. I hope this book shares the spirit of the many far-flung people who feel that a day in which wool is not held in the hands is not complete.

How to Use This Book
In handspinning, as in life, all things are interconnected. This book begins with where wool comes from and an introduction to sheep breeds. You’ll also find four pieces I created using my handspun yarns that help to demonstrate the thought processes I go through when spinning yarn for a specific purpose. Sprinkled among the discussions about fleeces and wool science are spinning terms that might be new to you. The glossary at the end of the book can shed some light on any that might be unfamiliar to you.

Chapter One: Wool—Ubiquitous and Enduring
This chapter takes a look at where wool comes from—how it grows, the animals it comes from, and the dedicated folks who produce the wool we love.

Chapter Two: From Raw Fleece to Rolag
Starting with selecting fleeces for handspinning, this chapter covers how to wash and prepare fleeces to create the yarns you want.

Chapter Three: Working with Prepared Fibers
From natural-color rovings to vibrant, textured carded batts, prepared fibers are what many spinners use to create their favorite yarns. This chapter discusses what to look for (and what to avoid) when shopping for spinning fibers. Have you ever wondered what a woolen mill looks like? Take a walk through Zeilinger Wool Company in Michigan.

Chapter Four: Spinning Wool
I offer an introduction to different types of spinning and my yarn design process in this chapter.

Chapter Five: Living with Wool
This section will help you keep your stash of fleeces, fibers, yarns, and textiles organized and safe for years to come.

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