The UK has more breeds of sheep than any other country in the world, with over sixty different pure breeds and many more half, cross and rare breeds.
Each breed of sheep produces its own distinct wool quality, each breed having its own story to tell. Our grading systems, within our Grade Depots around the UK, grade wool based upon both its style and characteristics.
These include the staple length, crimp, fineness (micron) and handle and lustre (sheen). Each grade number falls into six main groups: Fine, Medium, Cross, Lustre, Hill and Mountain.
This is one of the reasons why British breeds offer such significant benefits, including character and quality, for knitting wool.
In addition, we also separate a number of speciality breed wools with distinct characteristics. Including; Dorset, Jacob, Masham, Teeswater/Wensleydale, Lincoln, Shetland, Exmoor Horn, Hebridean and Herdwick.
British wool is graded into seven main groups – fine, medium, cross, lustre, hill, mountain and naturally coloured.
Fine and lustre type British wools are perfect for use in knitting yarn, ensuring comfort next to the skin, warmth and beautiful drape.
Wool from the Bluefaced Leicester sheep is the finest in the British clip, producing a yarn that is soft and silky to the touch.
British wool is 100% natural, renewable, biodegradable, and also completely homegrown.
The advantages of buying local products are numerous – it helps us reduce our carbon footprint, boosts agriculture and supports our local economy.
Natural wool is known to have the highest capacity to absorb and hold dye.
Specialists talk about the naturally superior bloom of the shade within the wool during the dye process.
This lends true depth and also, dependent on wool type, heathery flecks, creating a beautiful, long lasting appearance.
British wool knitting yarns are available in a wide range of textures and beautiful colours – some in natural undyed shades. The choice also includes a range of sheep breeds with their own individual characteristics, such as the Hebridean, one of a group of naturally coloured rare breeds. A Hebridean fleece tends to be used undyed, producing designs of subtle shade variations.
British wool is found in 100% knitting yarn, and also in various blended yarns with other types of wool and man-made fibres. Spinners develop yarns that use British wool characteristics like ingredients in a recipe, adding the strength and stories of different wools to produce the required result.