Did you know that there are hundreds of different breeds of sheep around the world that produce wool? Last month I learned about the Cotswold sheep at our local Spinning & Weaving gathering. It’s one of the oldest British longwool breeds, developed on the Cotswold Hills in the west of England. Cotswold sheep are large sheep with long coarse fleece, naturally wavy curls and lustrous silky sheen. It’s believed that this breed was introduced to Britain by the Romans nearly 2000 years ago, and is often referred to as the Cotswold Lion.
At our gathering, I was given a sample-box with Cotswold fleece to try. Some fibers were carded and ready for spinning, some were just washed. These beautiful green locks were hand-dyed and I used a pair of wool combs to prepare it for spinning on my tiny, 3-D printed Turkish drop spindle by Turtle Made. I left some of these locks uncombed to incorporate them into a Bouclé yarn when I have a chance to practice more. Aren’t they just gorgeous?
There also were 3 kinds of natural color fleece in the box – (1) Washed 100% Cotswold fleece that I hand-combed for worsted spinning, (2) Drum-carded 100% Cotswold fleece for woolen spinning, and (3) Drum-carded 85% Cotswold and 15% Rambouillet blend. All my mini skeins turned out so lovely!! They have a pretty sheen and a strong fluffy/airy texture, but are not very bouncy and more rough than soft. In fact, this yarn reminds me of mohair in its appearance and strength.
When I was thinking about what kind of projects I would make from this wool, I instantly pictured animals…crochet, knitted, or felted. So I used all my mini-skeins to make this cute mini bear from my Chubby Little Bear pattern. Since the yarn was much thinner (about fingering weight), I used a 2.5 mm hook for the bear and I made his scarf using 2 strands of yarn with a 4 mm hook. The scarf is a Romanian Point Lace cord, you can find the video HERE. This chubby little woolen bear turned out about 5.5″ tall and is now among my favorite things to display.
I really enjoyed working on this project and I will surely use Cotswold wool again. My next goal is to create some pretty art yarns with loops, called Bouclé….but that’s another story.