Llanwenog Wool and the Madder Matter

Shall I introduce you to my new best friend, Llanwenog? Fleeces are like friends: some we know well and can’t live without, while others are more like casual acquaintances. I’ve been hanging out with a Llanwenog fleece and we’ve hit it off! Let me tell you a bit about this Welsh breed.

First of all, how does one pronounce “Llanwenog?” Welsh words beginning with LL can be tricky. Phonetically, it is often written in English as “cleh.” But it’s more helpful to hear it spoken.

At the end of the nineteenth century, Shropshire sheep were crossed with flocks of Welsh hill sheep to create crossbred lambs. Shropshire was a popular down breed used in many flocks to improve both wool and meat. By the late 1950s, these crossbreds were officially named Llanwenog after a parish in western Wales. You can read more about how politics and economics shaped these sheep on the Llanwenog Sheep Society website.

My friend Lynne Rule of Healing Fibers sent me a lovely Llanwenog fleece during the holidays that she had purchased from Liz Wookey in Llanwrda, Wales. I found that it washed up easily into a glistening, creamy white. The British Wool Board states that Llanwenog fleece is 31.5‒34 micron (the same range as Romney), so it is a sturdy wool, but also feels supple in the hand. It flicks, cards, and combs like a dream.

So, what to make? I think this Llanwenog fleece will be fabulous for bandweaving. When I look for fibers to use for bands such as warp-faced inkle and pick-up techniques, I try to find wools that have low elasticity (crimp), are sturdy, and yet retain some loft. The skeins I am working on will also take a trip through a madder dyepot. Stay tuned for next week’s results!


Looking for Llanwenog?

Liz Wookey at Ewe Spin Me a Yarn
Handmade at Henfryn
Llanwenog Sheep Society

Discover unusual sheep breeds!

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