It’s an essential material when it comes to a wide variety of fabric products – clothes, comforters, pillows, and much more use the wool from a wide range of different kinds of sheep but it’s often misunderstood which sheep can produce which specific type of wool and where these wools come from. We’ll look at some of the most used types of wool in products offered in the British Wool Shop and help deliver a deeper understanding of where wool comes from, and how it is used.
Mountain sheep and thick wool
Animals that are native to the mountains need to be prepared for the colder conditions, these include breeds like Blackface sheep, Dalesbred, South Wales Mountain Sheep, and Swaledale. As the name would suggest, these wools are typically much thicker and more resilient – measuring 35 microns and above, this type of wool is most commonly used for things like carpet manufacturing and lower quality wools are sometimes used for insulation.
If you see the big fluffy sheep with the bulky fleece on the sides of the mountains, you’ll know this is a type of wool that’s used for harder wearing and more resilient products.
Fine wool sheep
If mountain sheep wool is primarily used for harder-wearing products, then fine wool breeds including the Dorset Down, Oxford Down, Suffolk, and Vendeen sheep are used for more delicate products. Rarely containing the brittle white kemp fibers that are hard to dye, this wool with a micron count between 29 and 35 is perfect for knitting, futons, and bedding.
These breeds will be more regularly seen in the open fields with a more groomed look that’s much tighter and less fluffy, so when seeing these breeds, you know the wool will be going to wool cloth and bedding instead.
Naturally colored breeds
Not all sheep have the fluffy white coat and some breeds produced naturally colored fleeces too – these include the Badger Face Welsh Mountain Sheep, Castlemilk Moorit, Manx Loaghtan, and many others too. There’s a lot of variety in the thickness of these fibers from 30-35+ microns, so can be used for knitting products to carpet and insulation too.
The process of using dye doesn’t necessarily harm the wool but can increase costs, so if this cost can be reduced by natural colored wool types then it does pass the saving on, so when these breeds are seen you now know what these wools are used for.
There are many other breeds and types of wool out there that come from other animals that aren’t sheep too – cashmere for example comes from goats rather than sheep but gaining a deeper understanding of where these materials come from is a great way to better understand the products you’re buying.