Types of Wool
Different breeds for different types of wool
I want to tell you something you may not know. You ready? Okay: not all wool is created equal. Did you know that? Think about it… there are so many different kinds of sheep out there. Not just pure breeds, either, but all kinds of crosses, too! From Dorsets to Corriedale, and everything in between, there are so many kinds of sheep that give us wool. This means, of course, that different breeds give us different types of wool. Some is rugged and best suited to outerwear, while others are soft and delicate, and perfect for wearing against your skin. The old wool sweaters you were forced to wear as a child? Yeah, that’s not what I mean when I talk about wool. If you want to know about a few of my favorite types of wool, read on!
(If you are interested in checking out some other blog posts of mine about wool/fiber, you can find them here and here.)
Blue-faced Leicester (BFL)
The Blue-faced Leicester (pronounced “Lester”) has, you guessed it, a blue face! Well, they’re blue all over really, underneath their fleece.
The BFL is a breed of longwool sheep, with a soft white fleece that is excellent for wearing next to skin. The wool has a sheen to it reminiscent to silk, and is very strong. It is a popular choice for cloth diaper covers, and makes an excellent sweater.
Merino sheep can be found all over the world. From Spain to Russia to Australia, and even here in the US.
Merino is considered the creme de la creme of wool, with the softest fibers you can find anywhere among sheep. Merino is the number one wool for wearing against the bare skin, as it has zero itch factor.
The short staple length makes merino difficult to spin on it’s own, but certainly not impossible. It felts and dyes exceptionally well, and can be used for garments and accessories. It is hands-down the most popular wool used for baby and child items as it is buttery soft and smooth.
Corriedale sheep originally hail from the Australia/New Zealand region, but have been shown to adapt to all kinds of climates.
They produce a very long stapled wool. The fleece is heavy and hearty, very thick and with moderate bounce and “fluff.”
Corriedale wool is considered next-to-skin soft. It’s great for spinning and felting, as well as dying as it readily soaks up color.
Dorset sheep are an interesting breed. Apparently Dorsets came about due to the cross-breeding of the Merino with the Horned Sheep of Wales.
Dorsets are, in fact, meat sheep. However, they produce an excellent wool. This short-staple and springy wool, while some find it acceptable for next-to-skin wear, is a strong and thick fiber. This makes Dorset perfect for rugged outerwear.
Peruvian Highland wool is one of my all-time favorite wools! These sheep are an interesting crossbreed of Corriedale and Merino.
The wool sports the strength of Corriedale, offering resilience and bullet-proof wear perfect for outer garments, such as jackets. However, don’t be fooled into thinking this is a rough wool. The Merino shines through in it’s softness, making it a popular wool to be worn next to the skin in cowls, mitts, and sweaters.
Due to the Corriedale, Peruvian Highland wool also has a longer staple fiber length, making it much easier to spin than pure Merino. This wool is really an all-star pick for just about anything!
Just the tip of the iceburg
Be assured that these are certainly not all, but just a few of the breeds that really speak to me. I have been in love with wool for as long as I’ve been crafting with yarn. Different types of wool are suited to different purposes, but they are all remarkable. From being anti-microbial, to absorbent, to feltable, to insulating, wool is really a miracle fiber and I long to learn more and more as I go. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and gained a better understanding of different types of wool. If you know of someone who might find value in it, please share ♥