Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Fibre of the Month - OCTOBER - Black Welsh Mountain Sheep

Just in the nik of time again..!  Another natural coloured British wool breed this month.. Black Welsh Mountain
Black Welsh Mountain Ewe in her element
photo from
Very handsome ram..
Photo from
The Black Welsh Mountain Sheep Breeders Association describe them as a small breed, with natural resistance to disease that does well on rough grazing but is also happy on the lowlands and smallholdings.   They make good mothers and have an easy nature.  They are prolific and undemanding, self reliant and hardy. Producing good quality well flavoured meat.. and of course FIBRE.

The British Coloured Sheep Breeders Association says; 'it is an ancient breed and was described in Welsh writings in the middle ages.  The fleece is black with the tips bleaching to a reddish brown' and describes the wool as 'dense, fine and fairly soft'.  

Staple length is 8cm - 10cm
Bradford count 48-56  /  Micron measurement 28-35

I have spun Black Welsh before but up till now had never felted it..  Incidentally the first raw fleece that I ever saw or handled was a Black Welsh, when I was learning to spin with Mulberry Dyer.. I fell in love with all things woolly that day!

Laid the same as previous samples:
20x20cm square using 3 layers and felted hard to achieve maximum shrinkage
I brought my BWM tops (roving) from World of Wool.. they are excellent quality with minimal veggie matter.

I found this to be a slower felter..  It seems to take a while to get going and you really do have to keep on working quite a while after it feels firm to achieve maximum shrinkage.  When fully felted it has a beautiful character, a nice tight fuzzy surface to a really hard felt. It doesn't have 'give'.  

Finished sample size: 13 x 15cm
Weight: 12.7g
Shrinkage: 35% x 25%

This fibre is perfect for items that need to be hard wearing, and is worth the little bit extra effort it takes..  I am completely smitten with the project piece which I finished today :)  

Next time: Black Welsh Mountain Project  


Ellie Foster said...

Dear Deborah
I use Black Welsh x Texel (as the wool was from my sister's sheep) and can absolutely agree that it takes a longer time to felt, but once felted, makes a dense, hard wearing felt. I really like the finished felt but have to psyche myself up to make it! I look forward to seeing your next project.
Best wishes

FeltersJourney said...

Hi Ellie, I understand the need to psyche yourself up for it :) It's such a lovely finish though that it's worth doing isn't it?! I haven't tried Texel..
Lovely to be using fleeces reared by your family!