A new wool was offered to me this fall, and I jumped at the chance to send along something different. This Portuguese wool is in the Merino family. It is not bred to be as fine as what we typically think of as Merino, but despite being a thicker micron, it is really a lovely and bouncy wool with lots of crimp.
I found an article about this sheep breed (Click here to read the whole PDF.)
Portugal maintains several varieties of Merino
sheep, among them the white woollen Merino
Branco (Portuguese White) and the black variety
named Merino Preto (Portuguese Black). Merino
Branco can be considered the result of the
breeding of the Merino in Portugal, highly influenced
by Spanish Merino and Rambouillet at
the beginning of this century. Since 1930,
French Mutton Merino was introduced in order
to direct the production towards early maturity.
As with any new wool, I had to try it out. This time, I worked on making friends with my new True Creations spindle (it’s Mesquite, 1 oz).
I did a little checking with the lovely article written by Beth Smith in the Winter 2011 Spin Off about spinning to the crimp, and although I didn’t measure, I aimed for a good amount of twist and ply, since the fiber is quite lively. This resulted in a lovely bouncy yarn, great for anything that needs on elasticity, such as socks and mittens. I find it just barely itchy, of course your tolerance will vary.
For color inspiration, I looked toward something that gets me through every dreary cold winter here in Iowa…..the orange! The orange that we eat is not a naturally occurring fruit, but was bred somewhere in the Far East. It was brought to Portugal, where orange trees are everywhere…..even as street trees.
The Portuguese explorers and sailors distributed the tree widely to prevent scurvy during the 15th and 16th centuries. As a result, the word for the Orange fruit is a derivation of ‘Portugal’ in many languages. I chose one that I thought was pretty, so I present ‘Portogallo’ on Tiger Twist sock yarn, and hand dyed Portuguese Combed Top.
The colorway consists of three different greens, a brown, and two shades of orange. For both the yarn and fiber, I needed to develop a new technique for applying color. I wanted the greens to dominate, and the oranges to peek through more randomly. I hope you agree it was worth it, and I’ll keep these methods in mind for future application.
If you aren’t currently in the Tiger Club, but like what you see, would you please take a moment to check it out? We’d love to have you. I’m busy cooking up samples for our March color right now, and you have until March 15th to sign up to receive it. Thanks!