These are beautiful Leicester Longwool natural white curly wool locks. Leicester Longwool sheep are a UK-native rare breed. Their fibre is shiny and their staple length can go up to 36cm until they are sheared for the first time. This fleece has a staple of around 15cm.
This fleece came from a sheep named Muriel; Muriel lives in an English farm dedicated to this native British rare breed, and is kept for her fibre (not meat) by a shepherd who cares very much about his flock’s welfare. These are happy sheep indeed!
I scoured and hand washed these curly wool locks using a gentle, wool-specific detergent. This particular listing is for the wool still in its relatively unprocessed state, meaning there will be a little vegetable matter present, and the wool’s natural lock structure is mostly preserved. The tips are naturally slightly beige/yellow.
Follow this link if you’re looking for the same fibre but in a more processed format.
What are these curly wool locks good for?
Long wools with such well defined lock structure are fantastic for various crafts:
- Spinning – use them to spin art yarns. The tailspinning technique would be a perfect way to showcase these wool locks. The video below may help give you some ideas.
- Wet felting – adding locks to a felted work can yield some lovely textured results.
- Needle felting – funnily enough, these locks would make great curls for a sheep sculpture, or a gnome’s beard. The choices are endless.
A little about the Leicester Longwool breed
The Leicester Longwool, also known as Bakewell Leicester, Improved Leicester and New Leicester, was originally developed by the breeding innovator Robert Bakewell in the 18th century.
They are among the world’s largest sheep breed. Their fleeces have beautiful and distinct locks with well-defined crimp, which can grow up to 36cm or 14″ long. Leicester Longwool sheep’s wool diameter ranges from 32 to 46 microns, making it a very soft, yet sturdy, fibre.
This breed is classified as “endangered” by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, with fewer than 500 registered breeding females remaining in the UK. In North America, the Leicester Longwool is preserved by the efforts of private breeders. *
I’ve done my very best to make sure colours run true in the photos, but please note that your monitor settings may differ from mine.
* – information gathered from Wikipedia and The Field Guide to Fleece (by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius).