I got this from an Etsy seller called Woolly Wool of the West. I’ve gone back there a few times but she seems to be closed pretty often – I think the Etsy thing is very much a side operation for her. Which is fine of course! Her service was top- notch. The samples I got from her were all really nice, beautifully skirted, well documented too.
Prep & spinning
I first tried to flick and spin straight from the lock, which seems to be my default with these samples these days. I’m just too lazy to do much in the way of prep. However, that didn’t really work out well for this breed. The locks are very dense and I had a hard time drafting. So I made a few rolags, and that went a LOT better. This wool made beautiful airy rolags and spinning from them was quite easy, so I stuck with that. I used a combination of supported and unsupported long draw, depending on how my concentration was holding up. I then two-plied just enough to make my swatch. I have about 3/4 of a bobbin left plus a lot more yet to spin.
I found that this had a curious property that it didn’t really seem to wan to “take” the twist. I don’t know how else to describe it. I used my smallest pulley and felt as if I was treadling and treadling and it was still under-twisted. The twist must have been going somewhere – but I don’t know where. It was weird really. The two-ply is balanced and doesn’t look over-twisted, but I am telling you I put a lot of twist in there. You can see that if you zoom in on my control card – the angle of twist is pretty high, but the yarn does not feel even slightly over-twisted. It is springy and has a lot of body.
Also, I found this sample just a tad on the coarse / crisp side. I am not sure if I am going to proceed with my plans for socks. First of all, the long draw that I chose has resulted in a thicker than usual singles and I am thinking it is going to be at least DK if three-plied. And second, I just don’t think it is soft enough for socks. Definitely tough and springy enough though. I’ll probably go ahead and ply it with the British Milk sample anyway. Not sure yet. I may just wind it onto storage bobbins for now and decide later.
What the experts say
According to F&FSB, Clun Forest sheep have been around in some form for centuries and were well-adapted to living on the rough grasses in their native home (which according to Wikipedia is in Shropshire). They were improved around the 1860s by cross breeding with Shropshire, Kerry Hill, and Hill Radnor. I really liked all three of those breeds with Shropshire and (especially) Kerry Hill being particular favorites. I can see that heritage in the sample I spun, though my sample is perhaps a bit coarser. It felt very “Welsh” rather than “Down” (though Shropshire is of course a true down breed). Also the dark faces apparently come from the Shropshire sheep; the original Clun sheep had white faces, according to Wikipedia.
Clun Forest today is apparently raised mostly for meat. According to Wikipedia they often have twin lambs, and their milk has very high butterfat content so the lambs grow quickly. The high butterfat also makes them desirable as dairy sheep, though it seems that this usually happens via crossing with dairy sheep such as East Friesian.
“Ram of the Clun Forest breed” by Azuschlag at English Wikipedia: Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons
My Future Plans with this wool
This was a larger than usual sample so I have a fair amount left over. I think this is going to just go into my big basket of samples – which may end up becoming a freeform crochet project eventually. Or something else if the wind changes. Who knows?
I don’t think I would seek out any more Clun Forest. It is nice enough, but just a little too crisp for most of the kinds of projects I like to make. I wonder if this sample is maybe coarser than usual though. I guess this one is “undecided.” I like some things about it.