I wrote a bit about Finnsheep, or Finn, fiber early on in my spinning journey (read that post here). Since Finn is one of my favorite wools to work with, and I knit the Basket of Blossoms Shawl sample in Finn yarn, I thought it was time to revisit this wonderful fiber. WoodSong Farm, whose yarn I used, kindly provided me some photos of their sheep and fiber for this post.
Finnsheep are one of the Northern European short-tail breeds, along with Shetland, Icelandic, and lesser-known (in the US) breeds like Ouessant, Romanov, Soay, and Boreray. These sheep are on the smaller side, with cleaned fleeces averaging around 5 pounds (2.3 kg), according to the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook.
Unlike some of their cousin breeds, Finns are generally are a single-coated sheep. The wool they produce is usually classed as medium in fineness, with a staple length of 3-6 inches (7.5-15 cm). The wool has a nice amount of crimp and a bit of luster, which makes it dye beautifully. Finsheep also produce wool in a variety of natural colors, including blacks, grays and browns,which can be beautiful used as is or overdyed. I love naturally colored wool, and that, along with its luster and versatility, is what makes Finn wool one of my favorites to spin and knit with.
Working with Finn wool
I’ve spun Finn wool from both roving and combed top. It can be spun with either a woolen or worsted draft and is relatively easy to spin. The resulting yarn is good for a variety of uses. In addition to my Basket of Blossoms Shawl, I knit the samples for the Rionnag Cowl and Hat in Tukuwool Fingering, a semi-woolen blend of primarily Finn with a bit of Texel. I’ve also knit socks from my handspun Finn. Although it will felt – the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook notes that low agitation should be used when washing the fleece – I’ve washed my Finn socks on my machine’s wool setting and air dried without any major issues (your mileage may vary – always test wash a swatch first!). Finn may not be next-to-skin soft for some, but I have no issue wearing it against my neck as a shawl or cowl.
Have you tried spinning or knitting with Finnsheep wool? What was your impression?