I do love to spin Jacob wool.
For me, it is one of those comfort activities. Jacob just makes me feel good. A fire in the wood stove, a cup of Hot Chocolate and some Carded Jacob is my idea of a relaxing way to spend the day! The fiber is springy, not TOO kinky and drafts easily. It is the kind of fleece that will please the beginner all the way through to the seasoned veteran. The yarn you get will make super outerwear, socks, shawls and a spectacular blanket (that's my current plan!). The yarn also has SPROING -- so it kinda snaps back -- like boing!
What makes a Jacob?
Some of you are wondering, What is Jacob? Jacob is a polycerate (love that word) sheep. That means they have MANY horns. American Jacob differs greatly from British Jacob, where the breed originated. American Jacob are smaller. Breeders don't coat them -- because of the many, REALLY curvy horns (the POLY from polycerate). Jacob has the greatest range of acceptable fiber than any other breed. Since it is a conservative breed, there are many folks that have a small herd of Jacob. Because of this, you may find quite a few farms with Jacob that produce wonderful fleece!
Jacob sheep produce multicolored fleece. From white to nearly black. As you move through the spectrum of color the fleece also gets shorter and softer from light to dark. Working with a Jacob fleece is a delight for the senses!
Some Jacobs and some Jacob Fleece
The Many Colors of Jacob's Coat
American Jacobs are smaller than their British cousins so if you want MORE of all the colors you can get several Jacob Fleece and sort them together. I once sorted through 5 Jacob Fleeces,
I like to separate my Jacob into piles. I start by pulling out the pure white areas and the pure dark area -- these will be the two ends of my spectrum. Then I look at what is left and start separating based on lighter vs darker. I don't pull away any of the bits of white clinging to the grey or the brown, but I might grade the pile as lighter gray and darker gray, depending on how much white I see mixed in. Often I have been able to get 5 shades of carded roving. But 4 is good too.
Sort Raw or sort Clean? Well, it kinda depends! If the fleece is really dirty (dirt type of dirty), then you should wash it first, You'll have a hard time seeing the color valuations if it is all kinda coated with mud! The white on a Jacob is usually BRIGHT -- so clean helps.
I have sorted both ways, raw and clean. Clean smells better, but the fiber holds more tightly together and you have to do a little more pulling. The advantage is that you can do it in the house and you can see the colors. When washing first, Try to get 2 - 3 basic color areas and keep them together for later. Wash each as a single "batch" . You can see how I wash fleece by hand by reading Washing Day -- it is not the MOST efficient method, but I get really good results and minimal lock damage.
Sorting a Single Raw Jacob Fleece -- 4 Shades
Sorting Multiple Washed Jacob Fleeces - 5 Shades
And then ... there is the Gourmet Jacob -- Lilac
Jacob sheep that are 60% white and 40% another color -- light gray or light brown -- are called "lilac" . For these fleece you do not try to sort the colors, you just wash, card and spin. Your yarn will have a gentle, subtle Lilac hue.
So far I have found Lilac Fleece to be a little softer. I try to get Lilac fleece whenever I can! It is such an adventure in spinning, and a treat for the eyes.
Try Jacob -- You Won't be Sorry
Jacob is a medium length fiber and comes in multiple shades and multiple degrees of softness. It is fun and easy to spin. It cards up quite easily, wether you are using hand cards or a drum carder -- I like the way it turns out with my Louet Jr. Drum carder. You can comb Jacob -- but carding works just as well and it spins great from a carded bat.
When you work with Jacob, you are working with a little piece of history, a sheep breed that has not been "improved" -- it's just JACOB!
How does one prepare for an intensive 3 week weaving immersion program at Vavstuga? Like any intense physical experience — you TRAIN for it! By weaving? — well maybe. I have taken a different tack.
Staying in one position, often with a less than optimal posture can cause various maladies. Neck ache, upper back (shoulder blade) strain, Shoulder joints can get “pinched”, wrists ache, lower back pain. About the only structure that holds up well are LEGS.
For the last year — since the Basics and Linen classes at Vavstuga, I have been in training! I walk in the morning (dogs), then do 30 minutes of Tai Chi and Shoulder exercises (from my physical therapist) and a few core exercises (Lower back and abdomen). Later in the day I do either 30 minutes of one of two different yoga routines (one for bone density and one for muscle strength) at home, or I go to a 75 minute yoga class. I now have lots more strong, dense, muscly muscles. I am stronger and in better shape than I have been my entire adult life! I am now ready for Weaving Boot Camp!
Have I been weaving? Yes — once back from Basics class, I dressed my loom with an AMBITIOUS checked table cloth in 4 colors and started weaving — using the full length of my loom (120 cm) — so that was cool and the tablecloth’s turned out great. I also wove a few old standby’s – towels. I also wove a few blankets (using double wide weaving) with Tuna wool (wow, what a nice, warm, cozy, soft blanket that made!) – and I am in the process of weaving 3 different types of towels as gifts for friends and family.
I am also spinning a LOT — I want to make EVERYONE a handspun, handwoven blanket, so I’m currently spinning projects what would make good warp.
What else am I doing to “get ready”? Well …. it’s all about THE LIST (I have been working on this since I signed up for the Mini Immersion class — I think I was actually the FIRST to sign up). Yes folks — a list of supplies. What should I bring? There will be some down time in the evenings (that is … if I don’t crash and crawl into bed at 8:00 pm every night — like last time — BUT I have been training, after all, right??) I need a List because I obsess, I hate to forget anything (obsess) and I really don’t like shopping (Lou does all the shopping).
THE LIST has all the normal boring stuff on it (Clothes, toiletries, meds, notebook, electronics … yada yada yada) and things like a Knitting project, a spindle project (I’m spinning lace yarn for the opening of my Etsy shop), my Hansen MiniSpinner with its supply bag (Zuca), yoga mat and blocks, music, COFFEE supplies, some food … AFTER ALL I am going away for 3 weeks … I should feel comfortable and at home, yes?
I am less than a week away from VAVSTUGA and I’m starting to feel — weird, happy, excited, anxious. I have cleaned up my music room and prepared it as the staging area for the physical manifestation of THE LIST (Pics to follow) Lou says “Yer gonna need a bigger car” — maybe I should go out and get a car top carrier? What was I thinking when I bought the Honda Fit?? I shoulda bought the Pilot, or maybe the Ridgeline – Rats!
Many know me as Dakota Skipper -- that's my Cowboy alias. I LIKE to write and I like to share. Please enjoy reading about my frolicking fiber adventures!