The Suffolk sheep is primarily used for meat. As a result, they are the most prolific breed of sheep currently in the U.S. Their fleece is often ignored due to its short staple length, and lack of luster. However, after having worked with Suffolk fleece, I beg to differ.
Suffolk has a lot of classic medium wool characteristics. The raw wool is springy and a slightly oily. It felt like holding a handful of greasy styrofoam. It has some lanolin and requires a bit of scouring.
The staple length is around 2-3 inches. This fleece is from a yearling ram, so the micron count is probably in the high 20s. As the sheep grows older, the micro count will likely go up a bit more.
As you can see from the picture above, the fleece cleaned up nicely into a warm white. Once it is carded, it became even more springy and soft.
Even though the staple length in this fleece is on the shorter end, the fiber spun pretty easily due to the high crimp (krimp?). I did not take too much care to skirt out the shorter fiber as I wanted the uneven texture to the yarn, so you see a bit of pilling on the yarn.
The Suffolk fiber can be worn next to skin and is very warm. It is not as soft as merino or alpaca, but it is felt-resistant and more durable. I would use it to make next to skin garments such as hats, neckwarmers, or gloves where both durability and comfort is required.
As you can see, Suffolk fiber takes dye very easily. No special preparation is necessary. All the fiber in the picture above is dyed with only one violet dye. Since different colour particles travel through fiber at different rate, violet colours break down and if the fiber is removed before all the colour arrive at the same spot, you are left with a beautiful multi-colour skein.
I was able to knit a little ear warmer/ cowl (however you want to wear it) with a little over one ounce of fiber. The yarn came out to an aran/bulky gauge so I used size 8 needles.
Here's how I made this cowl:
Cast on 19 stitches
Row 1-5: stockinet sitch. Knit stitches on odd rows, purl stitches on even rows
Row 6: Knit 4, Purl 3, *knit 5 purl 3* until you have 4 stitches left, then knit 4
Row 7: Purl 4, Knit 3, *purl 5 knit 3* until you have 4 stichets left, then purl 4
Row 8: Knit 4, Purl 3, *knit 5 purl 3* until you have 4 stitches left, then knit 4
Row 9: Knit all stitchets
Row 10: Purl 3, *knit 5 purl 3* until the end
Row 11: Knit 3, *purl 5 knit 3* until the end
Row 12: Purl 3, *knit 5 purl 3* until the end
Repeat row 6- 12 until desired length then repeat row 1-5.
Bind off. Block. Lace leftover yarn or sew the two edges together.