Corriedale - a spinner's notes

lock of corriedale fleece

For ease of spinning and fleece character Corriedale has to be my favourite spinning fleece type. The Corriedale breed makes up 5.5% of the total New Zealand clip, mainly in the South Island.

Recently I have spun a very black fleece that I prepared by trimming the slightly weathered tips off and spinning a true worsted yarn. The result has character and softness, some lustre and is a most attractive yarn that will make a super classic sweater.

  • Fibre diameter: 26 - 35 microns.
  • Staple length: 75 - 125 mm.
  • Fleece weight: 4.5 - 6.0 kg.
  • Uses: Corriedale is most appropriately used for medium weight outer garments, worsteds and light tweeds, dress fabrics and knitting yarns. It has a little more bulk (loftiness, filling power) than Romney. It also makes excellent felted floor mats and boots.

The Corriedale breed was originally developed as a cross of either English Leicester or Lincoln with Merino. With the strong Merino influence fleeces are often quite waxy, so a good scour (wash) in very hot water is necessary to ensure ease of drafting.

A good Corriedale fleece is most attractive with a distinct characteristic being the evenness and clear definition of the staple crimp from the tip right to the butt. This good "character" exhibited by the fleece will show in the yarn, and a hint to ensure that is to attach a staple of the fleece to the side of your wheel. Apply twists per inch (or centimetre) in the spin so that when a length is drawn out from the bobbin, folded back on itself and broken off, it will correspond to the crimps per inch of the staple. Attach that short length of yarn to your wheel with the staple and use these as references as you continue spinning.

I have found Corriedale to be an excellent choice of fleece for a medium weight true worsted yarn. The length makes for easy preparation with the English woolcombs that I use, and the resulting rovings are a dream to spin short draw. For a semi-worsted yarn, prepared using a flick comb, you do have the advantage that, although you are spinning a fine to medium fibre, it has the ease of spinning of a coarser fleece. A true woollen yarn is easily spun from staples that have been cut in half, carded using the double carders, and spun long draw.

And if the difference between short draw and long draw techniques is new to you, Corriedale is just the fleece to try with! You will have someone in a group near you who will show you how.

© Pat Old 2002

coloured flock against a mountain backdrop Spring time twin lambs fleeces displayed at the 2004 World Congress
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