Craftsy is offering a FREE class called "Know Your Wool" from one of the authors of "The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook." I decided to do the class and learn a bit more about the wide variety of wools out there that can be spun up into yarn.
I had some problems getting the video to load at first. From reading the comments section, others have this issue too. I was using Google Chrome, and what worked for me was to click the little "HD" button at the bottom right until the video began. The first section, I had to have the HD off. The next, HD had to be on. So if your video isn't working, play with the HD settings and see if that helps. I'm going to contact Craftsy to let them know about this problem.
Deborah Robson does a nice job of talking about the different types of wool. She mentions a few breads and classifications for the wool she shows in the video. I wish it had been in HD, because you don't quite get to see the detail of her swatches. I think a class like this is nice, but if I could take it in person, it would be better. There is no substitute for being able to touch the wool and yarn while someone tells you about it.
I found the information on the different breeds of sheep to be fascinating. Deborah takes you to a fiber show where you learn more about breeds, and get to see the sheep and hear from the breeders. As I watch, I imagine what the fleece feels like as she stands there petting the sheep.
Another portion of the class is learning about websites where you can find breed specific wool yarns. She gives a list of sites to check out.
Having trouble with Lesson 5 loading. Eventually got it to work, and continued to learn more about swatching. Swatching has never been something I enjoyed doing. I've done it a few times for projects, mainly for sweaters, but if I can avoid a swatch, I do. Deborah teaches about swatching as a way to get to know your yarn before making a project, not necessarily for finding the right gauge. As I listened to the lesson, I have to admit, all I could think about was tons of swatches, lying around, not being used for anything. I also thought that if someone were to make "seriously silly" swatches, as she calls them, then you would need to purchase extra yarn to have enough to do a project later on. The swatches could be sewn together to make a blanket someday, I suppose. I can understand doing this process if you are going to design a project, and need an idea of how the yarn is going to behave. I'm not at the point in my knitting/spinning journey to design, so for me, I would rather just grab the yarn, start knitting, and see what happens.
At the end of Lesson 5, she gives an idea for those who don't like to swatch. Hey, that's me! I won't spoil the idea, but I thought it was very smart and way more to my taste.
The final lesson was on projects to make using breed specific wool. Deborah shows off some of her hand knits and talks about the categories of wool once again as a wrap up.
I enjoyed taking this free course through Etsy. I learned a lot and it makes me even more excited to go to fiber festivals this year and look for the wools she mentioned. I recommend this course for knitters and spinners.