Ah, Targhee, I didn't realize how much I loved you - but really I shouldn’t be surprised. My experience with Targhee had thus far been limited to milled yarns and I'm happy to report that the things I love about this breed's fleece is apparent when both knitting and spinning.
The hope for a dual purpose, uniquely American breed that could withstand the harsh weather of the wild American West was certainly fulfilled with the creation of Targhee sheep.
"Invented" quite recently at the United States Sheep Experiment Station in 1926, Targhee hail from Rambouillet, Lincoln, and Corriedale stock - all long wool breeds known to produce lovely fleece. This lineage of fine fiber combined with the knowledge garnered through the creation of the Columbia breed (also at the USSES), resulted in the big boned-incredibly soft fine fleece producing-Targhee.
Naturally polled and with open, wool-free faces, Targhee rams can weigh in at a whopping 200-300 pounds, with ewes weighing as much as 200 pounds (big sheep!!). In general, Targhee are white but every now and then some black or brown will sneak in, though deviation from white isn’t accepted per breed standards.
Like their genetic predecessors, Targhee fiber is both soft & squish-able and dense & durable. A staple length of 3-5 inches makes spinning it quite enjoyable - that said having spent so much time recently with much longer staple length fibers keeping my hands and feet in sync at the wheel kept me on my toes (literally).
Having picked up this braid soon after bringing home the antique wheel, I figured might as well get this sassy lil bit of hand dyed Targhee on that 200 year old bobbin. When breaking up and preparing the fiber, I tried to do a bit of a fractal thing with the colors. Juries still out on whether or not I actually accomplished it though…
The specs: 19 wraps per inch | gauge unknown | 39 grams so far
Plans for this skein are still in the works, and I have another ~30 grams of it to spin, but the idea thus far has been to use it to make a pair of house slippers for Andy, something like these ones made by Temple of Knit. At any rate, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to eek out enough yardage for some kind of fun small project.