Breed Study: Bond Fiber

First off, thanks so much for your support of the first breed study post!  I really do appreciate it.  And secondly, sorry for missing last week’s post — I had a migraine that made my left eye swell shut and I’m just beginning to come out of the post migraine fog.   Intentionally slowing down after that brutal headache gave me time to craft and spin, so I’m ready with this week’s installment.

The first post gave you information on the the categories of wool and this week, I spun from the fine wool category.  Fibers in this category:

  • are great for making next to the skin items (for e.g. sweaters, shawls, cowls)
  • are soft and durable
  • are typically of staple length 3 – 5 inches
  • produce yarn that’s typically bouncy and soft

Some well known breeds are: Merino, Corriedale, Polwarth and Cormo.

The fiber I’m working with in this category is a lesser known fiber named Bond.  This breed originated in Australia in the late 1800s, early 1900s and is a resulting breed which came from crossing Lincoln and Merino sheep.  Other characteristics of Bond fiber are:

  • a longer staple length (4 – 7 inches)
  • that it’s a dense fiber
  • it’s soft
  • it’s very elastic

My findings from this spin are:

  • my balanced spin gave me yarn of 5 twists per inch.  Meaning in order for me to produce yarn that is not skewed to the extreme left or right, I have to put five twists in each inch of the fiber I feed onto my bobbin.
  • the fiber is really dense.  I usually draft forward (meaning, I pull the fiber forward before I let the twist enter it) but the density of this fiber hurt my hands drafting that way and it was much easier for me to draft backwards then feed.
  • the fiber is incredibly soft although it’s dense and has a type of hairy quality to it that I absolutely love.
  • the fiber is very durable.  It took some effort to break the fiber after twist was put in.

I’m trying my best to spin this fiber as consistently as I can but the preparation of the fiber is not smooth.  The prep resulted in fiber with  bits and pieces of fiber “waste” (noils and nepps) that I absolutely love and am not removing.  With my use of the short backwards draft (which gives less control regarding thick and thinness) plus the “waste”, I’m getting a spin that’s kinda rustic, thick and thin with enough texture to keep things interesting.  I can’t wait to see the resulting swatch.    This is not to say that you can’t get a fine spin with this fiber but that’s not what I’m going for here.

I would highly recommend this fiber for a beginning spinner.  The long staple length is very accommodating as your hands and brain learn to work together learning this beautiful, meditative craft.

The goal is to finish spinning the rest of this fiber by next Saturday so I can start the second fiber I got from the seller.  After spinning the second fiber, next up will be plying the two of them together as an experiment.

With this information, hopefully the next time you see yarn with Bond content you’ll be willing to try it for one of your yarny projects.  😀

Hope you’re each having a wonderfully crafty April!  I can’t wait to visit you all to see what you’ve been up to.

“What Language Are You Speaking”

😀

This is the question I got asked yesterday by my online fiber buddy  Daniellajoe after I posted the following pic of the start of my fiber breed study.

Bond/Corriedale

And really, what language am I speaking?

We go to the yarn supply store, or ravelry, or etsy. We see, we touch, we sniff yarn fumes, we cuddle, we buy, then we create.  We don’t think of things like staple length, micron count, bradford count, s-twist, z-twist, drafting techniques or even sheep breeds.  We think, yummy color, oooooo so soft,  I love. I want. In my shopping cart right now!  Or in my bag right now!!!  😀

But there’s so much more out there!  So much more than what we know.  So much more than bfl, silk, merino, cashmere, nylon, cotton, and the innocuous 100% wool with no detail on what type of fiber it is.

So how about this?  How about I share this “new language” with you?  How about I document everything I learn?  All my mistakes, all my successes, and all of the in-betweens?  So even if you don’t spin, by the end of the year, some of the fiber names you’ve heard of will be more familiar and you’ll even get a chance to find out about some new ones.  Good?  Alrighty then, let’s get started!

Last October, I bought what I was told was a  Bond/Corriedale fiber blend from a seller at the Brooklyn Fiber Festival.  When I got home, it was actually two lengths of fiber, braided to look like one NOT a blend.   When I started investigating the fibers, one of the first things I did was check the staple length (more on what that is later), I found that the lengths were disproportionately different from each other.  This meant that there was no way this was a blend of the two fibers.  One length is Bond and the other one is Corriedale.  While this serves as a buyer beware story, what it also provides is an opportunity to get acquainted with two semi-distinct fibers instead of one.

 For the purposes of this study what I’m about to say relates to animal fibers.  When I use plant fibers I’ll explain the characteristics then. So … all fibers fall into categories and I don’t mean pretty, prettier or prettiest!  LOLOL!  What I refer to are categories where although the sheep in each group have their own unique characteristics, the fiber from all the sheep in the same category have the same/similar distinguishing features.

According to Beth Smith, author of “The Spinners Book of Fleece”, the categories can be represented as:

  • fine wools
  • long wools
  • downs and down type breeds
  • multi-coated breeds

Luckily for me, the two fibers I got are both in the fine wool category so while the staple lengths might be different, the fiber from each source acts and can be treated similarly (hence the semi-distinct description) .  Before I get into the nitty gritty of each fiber, I’m going to give you the definitions of words you’ll hear regularly throughout this breed study:

  • staple length: is the naturally defined length of any fiber (unstretched) based on the genetics of the fiber source.

measuring staple length

source

  • Micron count: “measures the diameter of a single fiber of wool using scientific instruments that measure micrometers.  The smaller the number, the finer the wool.”  quoted from Yarn Works by W.J. Johnson.  How does this relate to the yarns you have in your stash?  Your yarn with smaller micron counts would be considered fine wools — your lace and fingering fall into this category.   Medium micron count (medium wools) are your sport weights, dk and worsted weights.  Larger microns counts are your aran and bulky weights.

See … the “language” is not as far removed from your current stash as you thought.

I’ve given you a lot to think about as a start, so I’m going to end here.   Next week’s post will delve into details of the actual fibers I’m spinning for April.  Hope to see you next week and let me know what you think in the comments section.

And Daniella … thanks so much for the post title!  😀

P.S. I know there are some seasoned spinners out there who visit this blog from time to time; I’d definitely appreciate your input or clarification if you see information given here that’s different from what you know it to be.  😀