With such strange times comes opportunity! I’ve been playing around in my studio actually taking the time to really look into my stash. I asked myself, “Self, what breed do I enjoy most? And what breed gives me the most challenge?” I should spin different breeds and compare them. “Aha! A breed study!” I thought. Why breed study? Well, examining different breeds not only gives me experience using different fibers but gives me the opportunity to find out what works best for a project and gives me confidence when trying new things. Most importantly, breed study makes us all better spinners when we have new problems to solve. For example, when I look at this fiber that has 75% BFL and 25% silk and compare it to 100% BFL what differences do I see? Color for one thing, ease of spinnability, strength, and many other attributes. Or how about short fibers of Cheviot compared to crazy long fibers of Wensleydale? But most importantly doing a breed study ensures that different fibers are being used, which raises demand for them, which can support our farmers, mills, and our animal agriculture as a whole. Check out the Shave em to Save em program through the livestock conservancy https://livestockconservancy.org/index.php/involved/internal/SE2 What fibers do you want to spin next?
Questions to ask yourself while spinning:
Compare a braid with silk with a braid of 100% wool fiber. Pull out a staple and examine it, notice the sheen and softness. Give it tug, how well does it snap back? What does the color look like? Is one color deeper than the other? How does it feel to spin? Does the added silk make it easier to spin? Does that fiber want to be thicker or thinner? Comparing the resulting yarns: which one would make a good sock yarn? Sweater yarn?
For more information on doing your own research of fiber breeds and hand spinning, I recommend these sources;
The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius
Shave em to Save em program through the livestock conservancy
The Knitters Book of Wool by Clara Parkes
The Practical Spinners Guide by Kate Larsen
The Spinners Book of Yarn Designs by Sarah Anderson