Black Wool Comparison

Some years ago, a friend who is a hand spinner and technically minded, did a "study for comparison" of black wools from different sheep to a sample of commercially dyed Merino top. She handcombs fleece before spinning, so in the photo you will see combed fleece for each sample skein she spun, at the top of each skein.
(full credit given here to Janet Curtis, the hand spinner who did this study)

The samples are from left to right:

Dark brown moorit Bond fleece -   Raven, a black Shetland fleece -   Roo, a black Corriedale fleece -   Winter, a black Corriedale fleece -   Commercially dyed Merino top

You will notice that the skeins are darker in colour than the combed fleece. This is always the case: spun wool is darker than the wool appears to be before spinning. The other thing to keep in mind: your finished project will not always be next to/compared to a sample of commercially dyed wool, so in most cases, any of these skeins would be called black, except for the obvious moorit brown skein.

You can take any black fleece sample and put it in direct sunlight for about 6 months and the exposed portions will fade to some shade of dark brown. Even if the sample was what some describe as a blue-black. Faded, commercially dyed black wools will sometimes have a green cast, blue cast, or brown cast, depending on how the saturate black dye was achieved. Black dye is usually some combination of red, blue, and green. Brown dye is some combination of red and green.

When a sheep grows black wool, it is because of black genes, which may be dominant or recessive black genes. True brown (moorit) genes are the most recessive of all genes. A combination of mostly black genes plus a bit of moorit genes may give you a black sheep with a brown cast. A sheep that is all dominant black genes may give you a sheep with a "bluish" cast, or not. All black sheep will over the course of a year of exposure to the sun, have faded fleece tips. (even if covered with a coat) The tips are always brown ... never blue or green or red, as dyed wool would be.

Taking photos of fleeces is always sort of dodgy, in as much as computer monitors display colour with such irregularity: what looks good or accurate on my screen will be entirely different on another screen. So, if you look at this page and can't see any differences at all, then I'm sorry ... there's naught to do about it. If you look at this page and all samples look brown and you don't see any black, then I'm sorry ... again I can't fix this for you.
This is just one more example of our computers can't do everything we want them to.

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