Sunday, May 29, 2016

Wool Study: Tunis

My last post I shared a mini wool study about romney locks I recently purchased and now I can't wait to share my findings about this mostly unheard jewel of a wool: Tunis

I did not take this photo, I just found it on Google Images, but whoever did take it, what a perfect shot! What Cutie Patuties!

 I first have to share how I got it...

 Last January I was blessed by my husband with an amazing birthday gift - driving all the way to The Woolery to purchase my very first raw fleece. Just a few weeks before that my parents blessed me with my very first spinning wheel (Ashford Kiwi 2 from the smoky mountain spinnery) and for the past 3 months before that I discovered how yarn was made (I never even knew as a crocheter! Silly, I know! I just purchased all my yarn from Walmart or Michael's and never really cared how animal or plant fibers were spun into yarn!) and bought a very simply drop spindle for $17. 

Anyways... The birthday gift...

We drove from Knoxville, TN to Frankfurt, KY and I felt like I was going to Disneyland!!!!

When I saw the shop i'm surprised I didn't jump out of the car while it was still moving and ran toward the window and press my face against the glass like the boy in a Christmas Story seeing his dream toy, a Red Rider BB Gun... oh, Ralphie, I know how you felt!

I walked in and I swear I saw Santa Clause and his elves shearing some sheep and bagging it all for sale... maybe it was just my imagination and giddiness, just agree with me I saw them.

Before we arrived I was extremely nervous because i've never handled raw fleece and had NO idea that sheep had different breeds, they were just sheep.

The whole drive there I was searching on my phone what the Woolery had in fleeces and then I began to Google what sheep was what and how their wool will spin and even then I had no idea if I was making the right choice! You see, the only thing I spun was alpaca and roving from the spinnery (Merino). Everything was already done all I had to do was choose a color and spin. But no, I wanted to learn and start from the beginning! I didn't have a sheep and I didn't shear one so buying raw fleece was my beginning.

I decided to choose Tunis because of this bit I read: Thomas Jefferson loved Tunis so much he preferred them over his merino's and George Washington kept them on the lawn of the White House and I just thought, "That's cool and patriotic. Okie Dokie." That was pretty much it.

 My husband bought 4 pounds of it and some other fun tools and I just could not wait to get home and wash it...

The next day I woke up so excited, I grabbed all four bags and dumped them out and then realized they were compacted so perfectly that when they all were released it was... like... a lot... oops.

So I had to separate all of them and began to go through one pound at a time and then I had another realization... this isn't all that easy, it is HARD going through all this and having no idea what I was doing. What was I doing? What am I supposed to look for or throw away? I looked at youtube videos and blogs and thought I was soooooo prepared but now that it came down to it I had no idea what I was doing, but I can pretend I know what i'm doing so what did I do? Just fluffed it all up and panicking in my head.

Right is dirty wool and on the left is clean and it didn't felt! Shocking for a first time fleece cleaner!

 Finally, I just calmed down and had my hubby help me get rid of any nasty stuff and anything that had too much VM to even bother cleaning and the locks were actually really awesome... so AWESOME that I just forgot all about that and guess what I did? I just threw the whole fleece in the washer to soak and used A LOT of Dawn soap even though there was not that much lanolin. Yup! I never separated any gorgeous locks. I just threw them all in there... and just stood there and did nothing... nothing... ::face palm::

Soaking ONLY in a washer.

 But it was really by the grace of God that not only did it NOT felt (I was extremely careful not to agitate it) but there was such a beautiful softness I began to cry that I didn't ruin it! 

What I did all last year was card it in with alpaca and merino and hand dyed it and i've always been given great reviews on it, I loved the elasticity of a Tunis. But I never actually spun a tunis all by itself. Never! I know! That is absurd but it's true!

So finally just a few days ago with the tunis I still had left, I spun singles (wpi 40 which is thread weight) and 2 ply giving it a wpi 36 (thread weight).

and this is what I learned:

The spinning was effortless. So effortless that it was almost silky and felt extremely slippery. Fleece quality: 24 to 30 microns, a staple length of 4 - 6 inches, 56 - 58 spinning count wool and very lustrous!

I really love the natural creme color!

Next wool study I hope to do Wensleydale, but if not then either Border Leicester or Lincoln. Stay tuned!

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