Wovember Words: Terms to Know

Greetings fellow WOVEMBERISTS! This morning for WOVEMBER WORDS we dive into the incredible Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Deb Robson and Carol Ekarius. This invaluable tome contains oodles of information about WOOL and animal fibres and today we shall explore some of the terms from a section near the start entitled ‘Terms to Know’; these terms have been plucked from a comprehensive list of terminology provided in the book, and they relate to Processing Wool. We begin with suint in the sheep’s fleece and then we move through some of the stages required to turn that fleece into wool with which we can work.

Louise Scollay holding the copy of the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook held in the Shetland Library; photo © Jeni Reid and used with kind permission. Jeni specifically asked Louise to do 'a stern library face' for this shot!

Louise Scollay holding the copy of the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook held in the Shetland Library; photo © Jeni Reid and used with kind permission. Jeni specifically asked Louise to do ‘a stern library face’ for this shot!

Terms to know

Suint.

Salt that is given off in an animal’s sweat. It mixes with the lanolin to make the grease that coats and protects the fibers.

Scour.

Washing wool can result in greater or lesser degrees of cleanliness. Generally, you want to remove anything that will get in the way of making the yarn you want, whether you are processing the wool by hand or with the help of equipment. Some people wash wool so it retains a portion of the natural lanolin. Scouring is the most thorough stage on the continuum of washing possibilities. It refers to the complete removal of all lanolin and suint. Scouring done well results in very clean fiber that can be easily processed by mechanical equipment. If you are a shepherd or spinner sending your wool to a small mill to be turned into roving or top, you will most certainly need to scour it first, or the mill will do this job for you. Insufficiently scoured, gummy fiber can wreck machinery and is frustrating to work with, but overzealous scouring can damage fiber, causing it to become brittle or lose its luster.

Yield.

The yield of a fleece is the amount of clean wool left after the vegetable matter, grease and other contaminants have been washed out or mechanically removed. A fleece with a 90 percent yield has almost nothing other than wool in it when freshly shorn; a fleece with a 50 percent yield came off the animal with a lot of lanolin, suint, and/or contaminants.

‘The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook’ by Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, published by Storey Publishing., USA, 2011

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This entry was posted by Felicity Ford.

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