Breeds of Sheep used
Black Welsh Mountain
The Black Welsh Mountain wool is pure black with the tips bleaching to a reddish brown. It is dense, fairly fine and soft. It is a medium length. The naturally dark colour has been popular throughout the ages.
The fleece is most suitable for weaving into a cloth that is durable, light and warm. Used with white wool it can produce attractive checks and patterns.
Blue Faced Leicester
Bluefaced Leicesters were established in the 18th Century in and around Tyne and Wear and the east Cumbrian hills. The fleece is favoured for its length and its lustrous, silky texture. These properties meant that Bluefaced Leicester wool spins wonderfully and is great for creating yarn both strong and soft, that drapes beautifully once knitted and is fine enough to wear next to the skin.
The fleece is curly on the outside with a dense undercoat. The wool is white and relatively free of black and grey fibres, so dyes nicely.
The Dalesbred sheep breed have a coarse, long fleece, and the fleece is now predominantly used in carpets.
Grey Faced Dartmoor
The Greyface Dartmoor is a rare breed of domestic sheep originating around Dartmoor in south west England. Also known as the "Improved Dartmoor", this is a large and long-woolled breed, known for its distinctive facial markings.
The fleece of the Gotland sheep is fine, long, lustrous and dense. The fleece can be all shades of grey from silver to charcoal grey and is dark enough to be almost black.
The fleece is either black (often true black) or very dark brown and may have weathered tips, giving different colours which lend Hebridean fleece to tweed. Some are double coated, and like their Shetland relatives may have a very soft downy undercoat and coarse outer, while others are very dense.
The fleece is very coarse. It’s heavy and dense with an undercoat. It is most often used for rugs, heavy wool blankets, and heavy tweeds outerwear. Colours range from grey to white.
The Kerry Hill sheep wool is completely white in colour, and their legs are white with black markings.
Wool of these animals is fine and good for spinning and can make a lofty yarn with a subtle shine. It makes soft and durable garments for a wide range of garments and home furnishings.
High quality fleece of the Lincoln sheep is in great demand for weaving, spinning and many other crafts. However the breed is pretty rare in Britain, and categorised as ‘at risk‘ by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
Fleece of the Lincoln has heavy locks that are often twisted into a spiral near the end.
The Lleyn sheep breed is a hardy breed with a versatile, soft fleece. The finer fleece is used in hand knitting yarns, knitwear and textiles. The coarser fleece is used in carpets.
The Norfolk Horn is a rare breed. Its fleece is one of the best fleeces of any native British breed of sheep. It is classified as a fine fleece which also has a lovely handle, soft enough for use in clothing.
Norfolk Horn fleece has a lovely creamy oatmeal colour. It also has a subtle pearlescent lustre and a surprising softness.
Shetlands are known primarily for their production of colourful wool upon which the Shetland woollen industry is based. Shetland comes in one of the widest ranges of colours of any breed. There are 11 main colours as well as 30 markings, many still bearing their Shetland dialect names. Shetlands naturally shed their wool during late spring/early summer. They are noted for their very fine and soft wool.
The Southdown sheep has a dense, resilient medium grade white fleece. The fleece produces versatile, medium handling wools which dye nicely.
The Southdown fleeces produce yarn which are soft enough to wear next to the skin as well having good durability.
The Swaledale sheep coats are thick and very coarse. Their coat colour is considered a uniform white or off-white. The yarn is used to make hard wearing items such as rugs, bags and jackets.