The Beauty of Primitive Wool (#21DK and #23DK)

We have our own unique lingo when naming our products, heavily influenced by our long history of buying and selling industrial quantities of wool. Our#21DK, White Primitive Breed Carded Sliver and #23DK, Primitive Breed Grey S/C may leave folks scratching their heads a bit – what is “primitive” wool? And what does DK mean again?

Remember we don’t sell yarn, so DK here doesn’t mean Double Knitted, but rather Domestic & Kempy. Kemp refers to the coarse guard hairs that glisten through these products, giving the wool a unique texture and an immense strength. As a novice wheel spinner, Grace finally got the hang of drafting when playing around with our #21DK. Finally, a wool that won’t break if you draft it too thin! At $9/lb, you can get as much drafting practice as you could need, so it’s one of our top recommendations for new spinners. In fact, it’s the only Domestic Carded Sliver product we feature in our Begin to Spin Sampler.

While seasoned wool industry folks find kemp to be a detriment, the extra shine and texture is an asset to certain artisans. Our friend Ashley Martineau of Neauveau Fiber Art is a big fan of our DK line, and has used it as a base for fiber braids, art batts, and handspun yarn, with some gorgeous results.

So what do we mean by “Primitive”? You may find different definitions, but our old school industry understanding is that the flock was not bred for particular fleece specifications. In the case of our #21DK (the white option, as you’ll recall from our post on Demystifying Domestic Carded Sliver) we use Churro wool from the Southwestern US. Our grey #23DK comes from the British breed Scottish Blackface and some grey churro. It’s got some second cuts in it so the staple is a little shorter than the 21DK version, hence the lower price.

The most popular use for primitive wool by far is as rug yarn. The strength of the kemp and the downiness of the undercoat is perfect for this purpose. The bright white color of the Churro makes for a delectable dyeing experience, as demonstrated by our friend Gretchen Adams, who dyes, spins and weaves our #21DK (all by hand!!) into some absolutely breathtaking rugs.

While most rugs are made with spun yarn, if you have a big enough loom you can also weave rugs with our DK line unspun, as Ashley demonstrates, including art yarn and selvedge for pops of color. These beautiful rugs will be available at her booth at the Gore Place Sheep Shearing festival in Waltham, MA in April, but keep an eye on her social media to see if she lists any leftovers for online purchase.

We’re always astounded by the creativity of our customers, which always gets us thinking, what else could you do with our DK line? What else are people *already* doing with it? Feel free to tag us in your creations on social media or send us an email with your Carded Sliver Creations! And stay turned here for other highlights of the creativity unleashed by our Carded Sliver products!