Cormo Information. - From a hand spinners view point.
Cormo is very crimpy and this gives wonderful bounce and loft to handspun yarns when they are spun to match the crimp pattern, (staple matching skeins). The fibre is a lovely creamy white and very uniform throughout the fleece making it very easy to use with no visible colour changes across garments. Although the fleece is available as fine as 18 microns this does not limit the thickness of yarn to superfine, I have quite happily spun Cormo to a light double knit and of course it can be multi plied for extra thickness.
Washing Cormo for handspinning needn't be a nightmare, the following is my method:-
Note:- you will need Lots of Boiling Water
First separate the fleece into small clumps of locks, lay these in a net bag with all the tips facing the same direction, lay these in a net bag with all the tips facing the same direction, packing the net in a single layer. If body buff puff nets are used they can then be rolled up tightly and secured with an elastic band. Fill a small bowl with boiling water from the kettle and plenty of lemon dishwash liquid and place the tips of the fleece in the water holding it so that the rest of the fleece is not in the water, this allows the dirt in the tips to soften and drop out without contaminating the rest of the fleece. Gently swish it back and forth to allow more dirt to drop out, then lift the fleece out and see how much dirt has come out and how much is left! Repeat the process. After the second tip washing fill the bowl again with boiling water and liquid and place the net or the roll flat in the water, the greasy sediment will immediately flow out of the fleece, leave it for a few minutes only then drain off the water. Repeat this step again and if the fleece still looks grubby you can take a potato masher and mash the fleece in the net, as long as it is covered in water it won't do any harm. When finished, drain off the water and re-fill with clear boiling water and a dash of hair conditioner, leave for five minutes or so, drain and roll in a towel or if lots of wool spin in the washing machine. Lay out to dry, preferably outside, but laying it on a radiator won't do any harm.
See no need to panic.
I prepare my Cormo using Louet Mini-Combs and find any brittle tips and felted or double cuts from the butts are left behind leaving only wonderful clean bouncy roving. You will notice that the true bounce is only apparent in the washed fleece, so take note of the crimp before washing ( keep an unwashed sample close by when you spin) then spin to the crimp. Your finished yarn should have the same number of twists to the inch as there are crimps.
When knitting the yarn try not to stretch it, it will keep the shape much better and not pull in or go baggy.
The softness is amazing and feels very like cashmere.
The following is taken from the publicity booklet produced by the original breeder of Cormo, and is of interest to anyone involved in sheep breeding either for wool or meat. Please bear in mind that this information was produced back in the 1980's so it shows how far ahead in breeding Ian was. I was extremely impressed with his setup when I stayed with him and Anne his enthusiasm and commitment for his breed is apparent even to the extent of building his house where the sheep told him by their preference for warmth and shelter!
What is Cormo?
Cormo is a system of breeding in which selection is based on scientific measurement of commercially desirable characteristics.
The criteria for selection are;
- Clean fleece weight.
- Fibre diameter (21-23 micron range);
- Fast body growth rate, or body weight;
- High fertility.
Scientific instruments and laboratory procedures are used to measure these characteristics, replacing the traditional subjective visual assessments.
The results are stored and analysed by computer.
No pedigrees are kept. Sheep are numbered and computer management makes Cormo the most strictly scientific genetic improvement scheme in the industry's history.
The internationally accepted Cormo breed originated in Tasmania, Australia. The flocks graze from 610 metres to 1000 metres above sea level and take hot, dry summers and cold, snowy winters in their stride.
A ram-breeding nucleus and a commercial flock both are run all year under these natural environmental conditions.
This gives each animal an equal opportunity to express its genetic assets.
Scientific breeding has given the Cormo a remarkable range of commercial virtues, suited to both the wool and meat industries. These include:-
- Long staple, white high-yield wool (average fleece weight 5.5 kg);
- Soft, dense fleece with exceptional consistency (90 per cent within two microns of the average);
- Resistance to fleece rot and mycotic dermatitis;
- Long and large carcasses with flock ewes averaging 55kg and export wethers averaging 60kg;
- High fertility with over 110 per cent of lambs weaned;
- Open faces;
- Easy management with no stalling or artificial feeding.
Cormo have valuable breed characteristics:
- Producing a finer fleece when crossed with a stronger breed, but retaining body size and fertility;
- Increasing resistance to fleece rot, particularly in Merino and Polwarth types;
- Enabling wethers to achieve maximum body weights;
- As fat lamb mothers, producing a leaner type lamb with more valuable fleece.
The Cormo created history when Toyobo Mills of Japan paid a premium price for Ians entire clip, unclassed, to produce an exclusive, luxury fabric, Donicormo.
Toyobo continues to pay a premium price for Tasmanian Cormo wool which has a unique softness and sponginess.
Since the initial cross-breeding in 1960, Ian has maintained a ram-breeding nucleus flock within its main commercial flock.
The nucleus of 2000 ewes produces sires for both the nucleus and the commercial flock of 8000 ewes. No outside rams are introduced and those within the nucleus are culled rigorously for commercial faults. Rams born in Tasmania in October (Southern Hemisphere spring) are tip shorn and weaned in January.
They graze naturally all year before being shorn again in December, when body weights are measured and wool samples sent to a laboratory for assessment.
When results are known, a final selection is made, based on:
- Clean fleece weight;
- Fibre diameter (21-23 microns);
- Type of birth, with twins preferred;
- Body weight.
The top 3 per cent of rams, assessed by these criteria, are retained for breeding.
Selected rams remain active in the breeding nucleus for only two years, so there is a rapid turnover of genetically improving sires.
Recent computer data shows the flock is continuing to improve genetically.
Ewes, born either into the ram nucleus flock or the commercial flock, are culled for obvious commercial faults.
At the hogget shearing, those remaining are assessed for:
- Greasy fleece weight;
- Fibre diameter.
Animals failing to meet prescribed standards are eliminated. Each year the top ewe hoggets from both flocks help to form the ram-breeding nucleus.
Ewes are shorn in September, before lambing, ensuring sound staple strength and easy management during lambing.
Management of the flock complements the scientific culling program.
Sheep are not housed, rugged or given supplementary feeding, although they graze from 610 to 1000 metres above sea level at an approximate latitude of 42 South where summers are hot and dry and winters cold and snowy.
Annual rainfall averages around 533 mm (21 ins).
Genetic defects are exposed and culled naturally in this environment, instead of being concealed by artificial pampering.
Cormo have been promoted in the United States as "rugged range rams".
They are an EASY MANAGEMENT breed.