Saturday, 28 March 2015

Teeswater Sheep

The Teeswater sheep is a British breed of sheep from Teesdale in the County of Durham in the north of England and named after the River Tees, which meanders for approximately 85 miles from Cross Fell, which is the highest summit in the Pennines, to the North Sea and is breed primarily for its meat.  It is part of the English Longwool family of sheep and is categorised as "vulnerable" by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, which means that there are between 500-900 breeding females in the UK.

The fleece should have long, lustrous, shiny locks which hang down individually without clumping or matting and is free from any dark fibres and kemp.  The wool is uniform throughout the fleece and is a warm white in colour once washed.

Fleece can vary between about 3.4Kg and 8.2Kg with the staple length (length of the locks) between 12 and 15 inches.  Some farmers shear this breed twice a year and produce fleece with a staple length of around 6 inches.

The locks can be used unspun to make a fleece rug, presumably weaving into a base fabric and I am sure details on how to do this can be found online.  It is often used to make dolls hair too.

For spinning, the locks can be flicked open but is probably best prepared by using Wool Combs and taking very long strokes with the combs because of the length of the staple.  When spinning any longwool fleece it is best to take your time and keep your hands far enough apart to keep the draft area light and open and your grip on the fibre light else it will clump up in your hands.  Spun with care, Teeswater will produce a beautiful fine yarn with lots of lustre and drape without being stiff or scratchy and will give good stitch definition.  It will take dye beautifully because of the lustre.

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