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Fibre Focus - Wensleydale Sheep

The Wensleydale Sheep is a very large longwool sheep, described by the British Meat and Livestock Commission as "probably the heaviest of all our indigenous breeds". Its fleece should be bright and lustrous, and of good length in an unclipped sheep.

The Wensleydale Sheep is a visually striking sheep with considerable presence. It has bold and alert carriage which is accentuated by its broad, level back on wide quarters and strong thighs. It has a distinctive deep blue head and ears, which should be clean except for a well developed forelock of wool, usually referred to as the "topping".

The Sheep
The Wensleydale is a large sheep with mature rams weighing up to 140kg and ewes around 100kg, although individual sheep may be heavier. The skin on head and ears should be blue, often extending on to the body - back and flanks - particularly where exposed to sunlight.

The Wool
The fleece should be bright and lustrous, and of good length in an unclipped sheep. Staple should be of medium breadth and equal all round the body, each staple curled or purled throughout its length. Fleeces are of 20 - 30 cms staple length and 32 - 34 micron thickness, with yearling fleeces weighing from 6 to 9 kgs.

We stock Wensleydale double knit hanks - £6.25 per 100g, Natural Wensleydale Top, £2.60 per 100g, Scoured Wensleydale Longwool Fleecewool, £2.20 per 100g, perfect for hand spinning, hand felting, doll making and many other craft uses.

Source: Wensleydale Sheep

Photo: With thanks to Paul

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