Fleece and Fibre
Most of us know wool comes from sheep, and perhaps we think it is always white and all the same: this series of articles may make you think again!
As many of our avid readers will know, we have been working on a new Blacker yarn range, being launched this month! This is a permanent addition to our ranges, designed to complement the others, providing a further range of textures and fabrics, a luxurious feel and adding to our colour palettes. The colour cards are available right away and the full launch is on 23rd March, 2017.
The lambs grow wool quite quickly and it is the finest and softest they will produce (even from Nathalie!).
So here they are last week:
The larger, darker ones with longer tails are the cross-bred Gotland/Blue-faced Leicester lambs and the paler smaller ones with short pointed tails are pure Gotland.
And here they are this week!
In the UK we use as much of our wool as possible and try to waste the minimum amount. To this end, the best and softest fibres are used for clothing, knitwear, knitting and weaving yarns. More coarse fibres are used in the production of carpet yarns. Any processing waste such as yarn ends or substandard fibre can be used in the production of felted underlay and insulation.
Before the fibre even gets to the processing stage it needs to be sorted. Once the fleece is shorn from the sheep the dags and substandard can be removed and the good fibre rolled ready to go on for other uses.
In some cases, the reject fibres are put into compost or on the garden (wool can work as a slug repellent due to its scales). As wool is able to absorb water and bio-degrades slowly it makes a good mulch, particularly for young trees and shrubs where it will also help prevent them being overcome by competition from weeds.
Mules and Half Breds are the most common type of sheep in the country and make up a large majority of our commercial flocks. They are good mothers and can carry twins, triplets or even quads! They produce fast-growing, lively lambs which makes them perfect for the commercial meat market. As well as this, some types of Mule also produce high-quality fleeces due to the rams that have been used as sires.
Teeswater x Dalesbred = Masham
Full of the joys of a New Year, I was pleased to see that the thinking people were busy. In January, both the Oxford Farming Conference (big guns, big business, big numbers, big results) is held, as is a newer alternative version called the Real Oxford Farming Conference (sustainability, innovation, new models, less is more).
Both conferences have a place in the thinking processes for the future of agriculture, whether for food or other crops and both get publicity beyond the farming press, with usually a government minister attending and speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference and both attended by influential organisations and individuals. Even The Archers go, though of course Brian and David go to the Oxford rather than the Real Oxford ...
It seems that this watery story is timely, though sadly not everyone is in a position to appreciate the sheer amount of water around the UK at present. Our thoughts are with those who have suffered flooding and those trying to keep their sheep from growing webbed feet.
Our new yarn, Tamar, is named for the river which defines the border between Devon (England) and Cornwall. The Tamar is quite a large river, and may be 61 miles long or possibly only 50 depending on the source of information! The nearest English river, the Exe, is also quoted variously as 60 or only 51 miles long! Can this be a local rivalry or maybe the difference is to do with whether and how their estuaries, which include other rivers, are measured?
Alpacas are a South American camelid and are often confused with Llamas; though both come from the same area they are different species of the Camelidae family. Alpacas have been kept for thousands of years, for both their high quality fibre and their low fat meat. It is fair to say that Alpaca meat is still not widely available in the United Kingdom, but is known for being low in fat and cholesterol as well as high in protein; it has been marketed as the ‘healthy’ alternative to beef.
Image courtesy of BBC News
Not just a pretty face, Harry added loads of value to my life!
He was a bottle-fed, home-reared lamb who travelled to work when on four-hourly feeds and eventually reluctantly accepted that he was really a sheep and lived with the others for eight years until his life became of insufficient quality and the knacker-man came for him.