Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Exploring the Down Wools: Babydoll Southdown Samples
Amy sent me two samples of her clean, coated Babydoll Southdown fleeces. The sample on top is a short-stapled , irregular crimp, the one below is a longer staple, more defined crimp. That is no stain on the bottom sample, but some rich yellow lanolin! I liked them both, but found the short staple of the first sample difficult to process with my hand cards.
These are some fairly fine fibers, and they wanted to spin up thinly for me. Even as a three ply, they are on the light side of a fingering weight yarn. Extremely elastic yarn. Amy says she is making an effort to breed for next-to-the skin softness, but isn't sure that that is attainable. I think it depends on how sensitive your skin is! Just as an experiment, I tucked one of these samples in one of my feminine undergarments.....and forgot it was there for the rest of the day. Though it would not be my first choice when a need for softness was primary, I look forward to making socks from my wool, as I think they will be quite comfortable.
Perception of softness even with the finest of down wools is affected, I think, by the wool's greatest strength .....which is its wonderful elastic crimp. This southdown has bouncy, bouncy crimp. I would compare it to a mattress. The springs in some are firm, and in others the springs are yielding. This affects the perception of softness for both mattresses and for wool. If you want a mattress for sleeping on, well, that will depend on your taste. But if you want to jump on the bed and have pillow fights, then pick a nice firm mattress. Bounce is fun!
Amy pointed out in her correspondence with me that Southdown has the most microscopic scales of any wool fiber.... this allows it to "grab" onto very fine fibers, making it perfect for blending with angora and other fibers that tend to want to escape! She sells some very yummy sounding blends, herself, which I hope to try one day.
I will finish spinning up my larger, lanolin rich portion, and check back with you all with notes on the spinning and the dyeing.
In the meantime, I have reserved two fleeces (one white, one colored) for next year. With their diminutive size, a Babydoll Southdown fleece is a very modest investment, and one that may just steal the heart away.