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Spinning Babydoll Southdown October 16, 2006

Posted by brianna in Verbosity.

Since I seem to be getting hits on this phrase, I just thought I’d say –

Babydoll Southdown. As the name states, it’s a down breed with a fine, short, very crimpy fleece that easily loses lock structure. It is easy to wash and easy to spin, and can be worn against the skin though wools like Merino, Cormo, and Rambouillet are softer. If you’re sensitive to wool, this fleece might be a little prickly.

This wool is best carded into batts or rolags or processed roving – its short staple length makes combing difficult, though some commercial mills might offer top. Flick carding is also a little tricky with this fleece – when washed, it loses a lot of lock structure, making it difficult to keep the fleece organized, and it’s short enough to put your fingers in danger. (Also, the crimp makes what could be a 4 inch staple curl up into 2 inches after it hits the water. =) It can be spun long draw for a lofty yarn, or inchworm for a sturdier, worsted or semi-worsted yarn, though however you spin it, it will loft up. This sort of down breed is ‘uncrushable’, it actually has a three-dimensional crimp that helps with its bounce. (Spinning Wool: Beyond the Basics is an awesome resource for wool types, BTW) This fleece will never be a good candidate for a very smooth, drapey yarn, though it is excellent for blankets and socks and sweaters and when knit into ribbing is amazingly elastic. Just remember that the staple length is pretty short when you spin – anything bulky or slubby is going to be /very/ prone to pilling and will wear quickly. However, its crimp makes it easy to spin for something so short stapled.

As a down type wool, Badydoll Southdown can also be washed in the washer without further treatment. It does not felt well. Wash a swatch first, though! I have a pair of suffolk wool socks (Suffolk is another downwool breed, with a similar but not quite so nice fleece. You can often get these fleeces for free, however) that I’ve washed in the washer numerous times, and they’ve not felted down, though the stitches /are/ slightly blurred. They’ve worn very well, especially considering they were my first actual spinning ‘project’ – I’ve only now had to darn them, and have worn them for years (on carpet. Wince). I’ve even thrown them in the dryer, and they’ve not deformed or shrunk. This means it’s not a good fleece for felting projects, obviously.

These are good ‘first fleeces’, too. They won’t felt easily when you wash them, and tend to be only 2-3 lbs for a whole fleece – a much less daunting prospect than a 10 lb Romney! They are also easy to process without much equipment – even dog slickers can yeild a nice and very spinnable presentation.


1. catsmum - October 11, 2013

very helpful – I’ve been spinning a while but never tried this type of fleece. I’ve just today been offered two ‘ straight off the sheep’ babydoll x fleeces. No idea what they were crossed with but it should be an interesting spin.

brianna - October 14, 2013

Cool, let me know how it goes! =)

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