With this compact, portable reference in hand, crafters can quickly and easily look up any of 100 sheep breeds, the characteristics of their fleece, and the kinds of projects for which their fleece is best suited. Each breed profile includes a photo of the animal and information about its origin and conservation status, as well as the weight, staple length, fiber diameter, and natural colors of its fleece. The Field Guide to Fleece (Storey Publishing, 2013), by Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, is a great primer for beginners, and a handy guide for anyone who loves working with fleece! The excerpt below comes from the section, “Rambouillet.”
You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Field Guide to Fleece.
In terms of fleece qualities, think of Rambouillet as a Merino cousin with a bit more bounce. A great wool to blend with luxury fibers, Rambouillet contributes elasticity without compromising softness. The square, dense, flat-tipped staples have a well-defined crimp that’s somewhat less organized than a Merino’s. The tips often collect dirt. Rambouillet’s high grease content means the wool must be carefully cleaned using consistently hot water (don’t let the water cool off and redeposit the dissolved grease on the fiber); its willingness to felt means you must limit agitation. Spin from flicked locks, comb, or card with fine-toothed carders or carding cloth.
Effect of Dyes
While Rambouillet wool has a more matte surface than Merino, it takes colors clearly and well.
With superior softness and good insulating properties, Rambouillet wool is superb for next-to-the-skin fabrics, baby garments, and other special items. It felts easily.
Fleece Weights: 8-18 pounds (3.75-8.25 kg)
Staple Lengths: 2”-4” (5-10 cm)
Fiber Diameters: 18-24 microns
Natural Colors: White
Valued in America’s western ranges for their hardiness and ability to thrive in sparse native grasslands, Rambouillets bunch up tightly to sleep, which gives them a higher degree of protection from predators than breeds that spread out when resting.
Read more from The Field Guide to Fleece:
This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from The Field Guide to Fleece, by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius and published by Storey Publishing, 2013. Buy this book from our store: The Field Guide to Fleece.
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