It’s British Wool Week as I write this, so I’ve chosen two books that I use to find out more about breeds of sheep. I’m experimenting with using wool from different breeds of sheep, particularly British native breeds.

I have set up a new page listing book recommendations and will keep adding to it.

‘The Field Guide to Fleece: 100 Sheep Breeds and How to Use Their Fibers’ by Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius

This book has become my first port of call to find out about wool from different sheep breeds. It includes a bit of background about the breed along with photographs of the sheep and wool. It also includes basic information (origin, fleece weights, staple lengths, fibre diameter and natural colours), along with a bit more information about using the wool. Much of this information focuses on preparing the fleece for spinning and possible uses for the resulting yarn, but for many of the breeds the authors do talk about how well the wool felts. Each breed has a specific section for the effect of dyes, which I am looking forward to making more use of.

Storey Publishing, 2013

‘British Sheep & Wool’ by the British Wool Marketing Board

This book focuses on British breeds (as the name suggests!). It lists more than 60 breeds, divided into seven main groups (fine, medium, cross, lustre, hill, mountain, naturally coloured). As well as a short introduction about the history of British wool, each breed has a small amount of information about origins, characteristics, location and main uses, along with specific information about the wool (handle, colour, weight, staple length, micron range). The information about what the wool is used for is less useful for the craftsperson than the book above, as it mostly focuses on the commercial uses of the wool such as whether the wool tends to be used for carpets, knitwear, etc (this reflects the nature of the role of the Wool Board). Plenty of nice photographs of sheep.

British Wool Marketing Board, 2010

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