• Herdwick Sheep

    Posted on 18th November 2015 by Shelley in Spinning Weaving Fibre.
    Herdwick British rare breed sheep


    Herdwick Fibre Test :  Herdwick native to The Lake District from around the 12th century

    Herdwick :  From “James & Helen Rebanks”  find them on www.twitter.com/@herdyshepherd1


    Photo from British sheep & wool book


    Now this was a really interesting participant as this is the only double coated fleece in my experiment.  So this will be listed as Herdwick: wool, Herdwick: hair and Herdwick: Mixed, all of which I just separated with my fingers, still no combs or cards or anything.


    sheep fleece and fibre fiber



     Herdwick Wool

    This separated quite well and easily made a nice fibre ball with the staples coming in at 2.5 – 3ins.  I have only separated it with my fingers and you will still get hairy bits in there, but you can still easily identify each different sample.


    wool singles and plied yarn

    Herdwick Wool Only Yarn


    This was very easy to spin and get a smooth even yarn, it felt nice in the hand and was not sore on my drafting fingers at all and I spun this woollen style.  It also gave a nicely plied Navajo yarn and I knitted this sample with 5mm needles which resulted in a lovely flat and even fabric.


    knitted wool only sample

    Herdwick Wool Knitted Sample


    I would definitely bypass the carding/combing stage with this as it was easy on the hands and the knitted sample looked so good.  10/10 for this experiment.


                                                                                                           Herdwick Hair   

    This mixed up into a fibre ball easier than I expected, as I thought most of the hair just wouldn’t cling to each other but it turned out well, with the staples measuring between 3 – 4ins.

    Again because this is the hair part of the fleece I thought it might be a bit slippery and hard to spin, I decided on a semi worsted style and I loved spinning this hair, it was just so much fun!  I was already thinking “what can I make from this as I want to do this again!”


    Singles yarn and navajo plied yarn

    Herdwick Hair Only Yarn


    It spun very thinly, and so also made a nice slim plied yarn although still kept it’s hairiness which is what gives it character.  Although this is quite a small sample as I hadn’t prepared as much as I thought, it was still really even.

    I decided to try knitting this sample in 3.75mm needles, but on holding it up I think I could maybe have got away with a 3.25mm, or definitely a 3.5mm needle.


    knitted fabric

    Herdwick Hair Knitted Sample


    I would bypass the carding stage with this again as it was so easy to use and really fun.  No need to put in any extra effort to this fleece.  10/10 for this experiment.


                                                                                                               Herdwick Mix 


    There is such a lovely mix of all these different shades of grey when keeping the hair and wool together like this and it was easily mixed into a ball of fibre.  The full length combined staple measures 6 – 7ins which is much longer than I thought it would be.


    singles and plied yarn

    Herdwick Mixed Yarn


    I was expecting this to be quite uneven to spin with, having the hair and wool together.  It didn’t disappoint in that respect as it was quite a lumpy bumpy singles.  When Navajo plying it gives you the chance to guide your yarn to where you want it, so in doing this it evened the yarn out quite a bit.


    Herdwick knitted fabric

    Herdwick Mixed Knitted Sample


    The knitted fabric isn’t too bad, although still quite uneven you would be able to make lots of interesting things with this yarn.  This result wasn’t quite as good as the other 2, but I would still bypass the carding stage with this I think. So it gets a  8/10 for this experiment.



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