I went to Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene for the first time with a few work friends last summer. While there I got some braids of Jacob wool from the lovely folks at Woolgatherings - I had never spun with Jacob before, but was keen to since they're such neat looking critters.
Jacob sheep are a piebald, polycerate (multi-horned) breed whose interesting looks come with an equally interesting tradition of lore. According to some origin stories Jacob sheep are directly descended from a spotted flock belonging to Jacob of the Old Testament, and some say this is further corroborated by the centuries long presence of piebald sheep in the Middle East. However, recent genetic testing has revealed this to be untrue and Jacobs, while distantly related to sheep from the fertile crescent, are mostly considered to be a British breed.
In 1700s England it wasn't uncommon to find a flock of Jacobs on an estate lawn or in a park as the breed is very hardy and doesn't require much human intervention to thrive. To this day they are considered a primitive sheep breed as not much work has been done to "improve" upon or alter their inherent characteristics. Unlike other primitive breeds though, Jacobs have surprisingly soft fleece.
By the mid-1900s Jacobs had found their way to the U.S. and from what I've learned, American Jacobs are prized for their fleeces specifically, and not their meat, making them different in appearance from their English cousins. Apparently American Jacobs more closely resemble the English Jacobs of the 18th century.
The specs: 11 wraps per inch | 4 stitches per inch on a US 7 | 109 grams total
I wasn't able to tap into this fiber immediately, you know with July being 100 degrees and all, but once I did it was smooth sailing. Unlike the BFL from a few posts ago, the roving was combed very smoothly making drafting easy. In total, I think I spent a few weeks of sporadic spinning to get a decent amount of yarn. As with most of my handspun, this is a two ply yarn (spun S, plied Z) - one of these days I'll venture out of my comfort zone!
Though I got enough fiber to make a sweater, because of how dense the yarn knits up my plans have changed. For this yarn I'm planning on making Ryandotta by Victoria Burgess. My hope is that this will be a bullet proof little hat that I can wear next winter through the rain and snow.