Rare Breed Week: Hill Radnor

Rare Breed Week: Hill Radnor
Lara Pollard-Jones
Lara Pollard-Jones

Join us as we speak to the breeders and crafters who are helping to keep our rare breeds going!  We've been speaking to breeder Sharon from Glyncanol Old Farm and crafter Jo from Woolie Cottage.  Sheep picture by Sharon Smith.

My name is Sharon Smith and I breed Hill Radnor sheep.

I chose the Hill Radnor as I really liked their faces, such appealing eyes that make contact with you and their fleeces are lovely to work with.

As a Welsh rare breed I was keen to help support them and finding stock was quite easy being a local sheep. They are a good size for a hill sheep  but easy to handle and can become very tame and friendly which makes handling them easy. They are good mothers and rear the lambs well so they can go to the abattoir as lambs if born early or a very good size as hogget. 

I keep a few other breeds  but find the Hill Radnor the easiest to manage, they love the hills but our Greyface Dartmoor are completely different preferring the lower ground,  the Manx like to hide at the top and the Cotswold don't like hills.

The Hill Radnor Flock Book Society is very helpful and friendly with lots of useful info for new keepers. We are looking forward to the 75th anniversary celebrations on 29th & 30th June where there are lots of fun competitions for novice and experienced keepers as well as demonstrations everyone is welcome.

It would be great to see this breed become more popular as it is great as a commercial breed as well as perfect for small holders.

You can find out abut Sharon's flock on her website.
If you'd like to find out more about the Hill Radnor you can check out the Hill Radnor Flock Book or the RBST.

Hi, I am Jo a Fibre Artist & Creator of Wooliecottage.com, found in a little Coastal Village in Cumbria.

For the last 8 years I have been crafting, blending, & dyeing wool & fibres, for Art Batts, Roving's from a large variety of both British & Continental Sheep Breeds, dyeing yarns to make into pre-measured warps. For crafters of all backgrounds from yarn spinners, weavers to felting artist.

I have been a fibre crafter for 30 years starting with Crochet, Macrame & Embroidery since a teen. In 2016 due to health issues I retired from a career in catering as a chef and realised I needed an outlet for my creativity, I bought my first drop spindle kit from World of Wool & taught myself to spin yarn falling down the rabbit hole of wool and everything you could do with it how versatile it was had me hooked. From that evolved my business run from a converted bedroom to a studio & where I also teach what I do online.

I first encountered this Rare British Breed Hill Radnor about 2 years ago via a hobby breeder in Sunderland selling her small hobby flock fleeces on a Raw fleece Group online. This was a new breed to me having never worked with it before. Once I did a little research and history background on this breed I was intrigued. As a sheep it's not a greasy/ lanolin rich fleece so washes up well and great to work with. Then I discovered I could buy as a roving from World of Wool which was just ideal for me as I enjoyed working with the fleece for my own personal projects, the roving was simply perfect to bring in as a regular wool breed for my products.

I enjoy working with Hill Radnor as it really is a versatile wool though it has a medium micron count of 31-33 its still soft enough to the skin to be ideal for hats, mittens, socks. But I feel it's perfect for spinning as a double-knit yarn for all year-round layering sweaters or that comfy cardigan you throw on. Though it will happily spin as a lace weight yarn for those technical spinners.

It's an easy wool to dye taking in strong colours but with a slight dusky hue, I find it a joy to blend with silks and fibres which help to give it a softer feel in my opinion. The staple length on the Hill Radnor is 8-12 cm I think this it's just long enough for beginner spinners to work with as well as the more experienced spinners. The crimp isn't overly defined I find it likes to be spun as a woollen yarn and just be as happy to spin worsted.

The unique character of this Rare Breed though reared in tough weathered environment its fleece is nice to work with in all wool crafts techniques.

 You can find out abut Jo's work on Instagram and YouTube.

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