Thursday, 23 August 2012

My North England Mule

When I went to Woolfest at the end of June , I bought a fleece. I had decided I would buy one before I got there . I was quite determined to buy one. My sister thought I had now gone completley mad.

The idea came from Kate of Arty Bird, take some raw fleece said the assignment. What , where am I supposed to get that from, so she sent me some and ever since then I thought well maybe I should make soem of my own.

So here I am at Woolfest determined to buy, truthfully I was bit overwhelmed by the choice. How to choose? In the end I bought a smallish fleece from a north england mule. A cross between a blue face Leicester ram and a swale dale ewe. Bred I believe to mix the hardiness of the upland mother , with the more prolific genes of its lowland father. My decision process was simple. I recognized the originating sheep , I like blue faced Leicester fibre, the fleece wasn't too expensive at GBP 7:00, and it looked fleece shape as far as I could tell.


It came from a sheep who lives at High Stanger near Cockermouth.

Here is a picture of a mule , taken at at Hawkshead show. It is a far nicer looking sheep , in my opinion than a straight Blue faced Leicester. For those of you who are interested.

It's taken me a while to start to clean it, in fact it's taken me until I returned to the North of England as there was no way I could take it on a plane in its raw state.

Here I am lying it out and trying to decided what to do with it

Having thrown away the really horrible bits , I washed it big by bit. It had to be bit by bit as a did not have a big enough pan for more than a small amount at a time. I think it taken me 6 pan loads! and has resulted in me filling the house with a sheepy smell, and in me getting lots of lectures on hygiene in the kitchen.

Drying, I would like to say in the sunshine, but as its pouring with rain I can't so it's in the house.

And here is a small amount after hand carding.

I am really pleased to have managed to produce something out of my crazy buy at woolfest. I love the way its turned from greyish to lovely creamy white and I am interested to see how much of the orginal 2.3 kg is now usefull fibre .


I am now thinking about what I am going to do with it. I will dye some and felt some . Pretty predictable really,








  1. Ha, Jane ! Had a few laughs ! Good story.
    But .... you did a great job ! Though some say you should try felt a whole fleece, stinking as it is ..... nót ME though! Not YOU either, ha, ha !!!