Babydoll Southdown wool is one of the finest wools of all the British breeds. It is short (about 2 to 3 inches) and springy, soft and bouncy, with a surprisingly strong underlying disposition. The micron count typically ranges from 23 to 29 which means many people can wear it comfortably next to the skin. It is easy to spin and produces yarn with a lot of cushion and elasticity. Since it has more barbs per inch than other wool types, it is also ideal to blend with angora or other slick fibers since it clings so well. Its ability to wet felt is very low, although it is fantastic for needle-felting! Babydoll wool is great for socks, mittens, hats, blankets, and sweaters. You will find it has good durability.
I have an online shop and most of these items are made using wool from my Babydolls: http://www.MyLittleSheep.etsy.com
Recommended Care for Babydoll Wool:
Of course, I will always recommend hand washing any wool item in cool water, then air drying. But here…the socks I’ve made from 100% Babydoll wool get thrown in the washer and dryer with the other laundry. This “mistreatment” softens both their appearance and feel while maintaining elasticity. If there is any shrinkage, it is quite minimal. (I wash with warm water and rinse with cool. Hot water may produce different results.)
To give you some idea of how Babydoll wool stands up to machine washing and drying, we did some experiments. This is a scarf I knitted using bulky Babydoll 2-ply yarn. It measured 70″ long and was 5 1/2″ wide. This picture was taken before it was washed:
Then the scarf was placed in a laundry bag and machine washed with other laundry using the Warm/Cold cycle. It remained in the laundry bag to be dried in the dryer with heat. It came out with a softer appearance and feel, yet remained elastic. The stitches are still defined, just fluffier. After washing, the scarf measured 64″ long and was 6″ wide. So it actually shortened in length, but became slightly wider! If my calculations are correct, it widened exactly the same percentage as it shortened. So is that shrinkage, or simply redistribution? If it were blocked or even laid out to dry, could it retain the exact proportions? Needless to say, I find it fascinating! Here are pictures of the same scarf after the washing machine/dryer abuse:
As you can see, we’re having a fun time learning how versatile Babydoll Southdown wool can be. If you would like to spin, knit, crochet, or weave with it too, I have roving and yarn for sale on my Etsy shop. Thanks for looking!