The girls behind the woven blanket project: Sinead, Darby, & Bo-ann
In considering what fleeces to use for the woven blankets I looked at staple length or how long the wool is, luster, texture, & color. Two of my natural colored ewes, Sinead & Darby, have fleeces that have turned more grey in color over time. Their fleeces are of similar length, though Sinead has more curl or crimp. I needed a contrasting color - white, & chose Bo-ann's fleece, which is long, lustrous & has a wonderful crimp. These girls sure know how to produce outstanding fleeces & lots of it. The skirted fleeces ranged from 8 lbs to 12lbs., which is a lot of fiber! We are adding a proportionate amount of Merino wool to give extra softness & substance to the blankets.
Sinead is a Borderleicester X Romney ewe, the leader of my flock. She is the best mother & always has twins of natural color. In moving the flock if a lamb does not follow its own mother, I have witnessed Sinead go & encourage it to follow her back to the flock. She is very smart---she always knows when the gate has been left open or that I am not bringing them into the barn just for an extra ration of grain. It usually means something is going to be done to them--shearing, worming, etc. I do not have a dog to help me & usually move the sheep from pasture to pasture by having them follow me with a grain bucket. They often get ahead of me with Sinead in the lead. If she turns to lead them in the wrong direction, I yell "over here!" & she will pivot & turn in the correct direction-she is smart!
Darby is a Registered Romney ewe. She always produces the largest fleece in the flock 12 - 15 lbs of beautiful grey fiber. She reminds me of a bear in appearance. She is a wonderful, gentle mother & usually has lambs of natural color. She took last year off which she deserved as she had triplets the year before! She gets along so well in the flock-- you never see her pushing or shoving the others.
Bo-ann is a Romney X Teeswater ewe. I had to help her mom with her delivery; she was a single lamb with a lot of substance. She produces large white fleeces, wonderful for their sheen & staple length. She has had a ram lamb the past two years that have had outstanding fleeces. I am curious to see if she will have twins this year. She is very protective of her babies & can be a little pushy with some of the other ewes in the flock.
NOTE: for information on what I mean by “natural” colored wool, read more here at the Natural Colored Wool Growers Association