Tag Archives: rare wools

Where the Sheep Are

sheepshearingSpring is here! In the fiber world, we know that means more than just warm temperatures; spring is the time that many sheep are shorn, giving us their beautiful fleece to spin, weave, knit, or crochet. It’s also a great time for fiber artists to branch out and try working with a new-to-them breed of sheep. If you’re wondering how to get started, here is a handy guide to begin your journey in to the wonderful world of sheep:

Fiber Festivals

Your local fiber festival is a great place to start! You might be surprised at how many sheep are raised in your region, and fiber festivals are an excellent way to support small farms and purchase fleece and fiber that you might not encounter anywhere else. You can often find breed-specific yarns in addition to raw fleece or prepared top, many of which can be purchased directly from the producer. We have several upcoming fiber festivals listed here on our website.

borderleicesterSheep Breeder Associations

If you’ve encountered a breed of sheep you’ve never heard of, chances are there is an association dedicated to that particular breed which can be found with a simple web search. For example, if you came across a Border Leicester fleece, the American Border Leicester Association would be a great place to see photos of the sheep, learn about the breed’s history and read up on the characteristics of the fleece. Some association websites have classified sections where members can post sheep or sheep products for sale; you can also check for upcoming events to find out when and where the sheep will be shown!


There are many wonderful books dedicated to all things sheep, but one of our favorites is The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Deb Robson and Carol Ekarious.  This comprehensive photographic encyclopedia features more than 200 animals and the fibers they produce, covering almost every sheep breed in the world from the longwool breeds of the United Kingdom to the Tasmanian merino, the Navajo churro, the northern European Faroese, and dozens  more. bookofwoolAnother fantastic book is Clara Parkes’ Knitter’s Book of Wool, which focuses on how to best use the yarns created from specific breeds of wool and gives an excellent introduction to many breeds of sheep along the way.

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team


Oodles of Wool + Visit with Author Deb Robson

Jacob Sheep offer three colors for the price of one! Check it out in our Pushing the Limits Kit. Photo (c) American Livestock Breeds Conservancy: Jeanette Beranger, from The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook (c) by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius, used with permission from Storey Publishing.

What do fleece and tomatoes have in common? Stick with me here, both are better if they are allowed to grow in their own unique way under the watchful eye of a caretaker. No waxy, hard, barely edible tomatoes for us! And, because variety is the spice of life, we want lots of different kinds of tomatoes depending on what we are cooking for dinner.

Spinners know this to be true about their fleece, too. With The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook at our side, we have the ultimate guide to finding the perfect fleece to make that perfect pair of socks. From the many, many, many breeds of sheep to the exotic yak and bison we have the world of fibers at our fingertips through this book.

What makes one sheep’s wool different from another?

Author and rare breed advocate, Deb Robson.

According to The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook, “A breed is a group of domestic animals with identifiable characteristics—visual, performance, geographic and/or cultural—that allow it to be distinguished from other groups with the same species.” For the handspinner, this means that each breed’s fleece has distinctive characteristics that call us to prepare and spin it in just the right way to bring out its unique character.

But really does it matter that much? Why not find out for yourself. The Woolery has consulted with Deb Robson co-author of The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook to bring you a number of kits that contain a selection of fibers that vary from one another in significant ways.

  • Breed Specific Kits allow you to explore the world of wool from fine to lustrous. From bouncy Cormo to long and lovely Wensleydale delve into ten varieties of wool. A smaller selection is also available
  • Breed Specific Wools Pushing The Limits is for adventurous sprits. With The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook as your guide explore six storied wools. Learn why Herdwick is a great choice for tweeds and Gotland is the pick of hobbits.
  • Wool and More Kits includes rovings from several different types of animals including sheep, goats, camelids, and rabbit. A kit with just non-wool fibers is also available.

A rare treat: visit with the author!

Spinning Rare Wools

Deb Robson co-author of The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook is passionate not only about the unique characteristics of breed-specific fibers, she cares deeply for the breeds that are classified as rare or endangered. You can get to know Deb a little better by watching her introduction to her new DVD Spinning Rare Wools. But don’t settle for just watching the video, join us for a live chat with Deb on The Woolery’s Ravelry site Tuesday, September 27 from 9-10pm EST. Deb will be handy to answer your questions and talk about the our common Bonds—the breed and our love of fleece!

Chris, Nancy and the entire Woolery Team!