When I first got my spinning wheel I ordered a swag of practice fiber. That swag included a sample pack of fiber from a number of British sheep breeds. Now that I've got my first home spun project is almost finished, it seems like a suitable next step to start working through these little sample packs to see how different fleece will behave.
There is an assortment of fibre types here from soft Shetland, to long Wendsleydale, and coarse Herdwick. I've divided them up according to the yarn they might spin, or my best guess at it anyway. I'd like to spin a finer yarn then the Manx used in the Woolly Wormhead KAL, in the hope that there will be a few balls suitable to make a pair of colour work mittens at the end of the experiment.
I'm starting with this lovely piece of Exmoor top. (This actually came from Yarndale, but it's being thrown in the British Breeds experiment too.)
Apparently Exmoor's are an excellent eating sheep, but as much as I like a good lamb chop that's not what brought us here. This is a rare breed and you can find untold information about the history of the breed all over the WWW, but not much about the fiber characteristics. The micron count for this fibre is about 36, putting it in the hard catagory. Everything else I can tell you is from my own inexperienced eye. The fleece I have has a lovely luster, and fine crimp. The staple seems to be about 15cm, and it's beautifully soft.
I've set Gem to her highest ratio, and we shall see how we get on.