Wool by breeds

[This is a partial list of some of the breeds of sheep whose wool is used by handspinners. The descriptions of wool are taken from various referrence sources, as well as personal experience, and are only meant to be a rough way to differentiate between types of wool.]

New! Some of the names of the breeds are now links to pictures of the fleece. If you want to submit a picture for this section, please send it to cenabrown AT yahoo DOT com. I might have to trim or resize it, but if I use it I will credit the donor.


Merino 62-100mm 17-23 64-80s Finest of the wool breeds. Excellent for next-to the skin wear and baby wear.
The breed is the result of crossing Corriedales and Superfine Merinos.
Rambouillet 50-100mm 18-25 60-80 French descendant of the merino, seems harder to break the grease when cleaning. Can be used for felting.
California Variegated Mutant 100-150 mm   60-62 Bred from mutations in the Romeldale breed, which were bred from Romneys and Rambouillets
Bluefaced Leicester 80-150 mm   56-60s Bred from the Leicester, but has finer fleece. Good multi-purpose fiber.
Shetland 50-120 20-25 55-65 Largest range of colors and markings of any breed, extremely good for shawls and lace. Felts easily. It is a very primitive breed and is 2 coated. It has a natural break in the fleece and the sheep normally shed their fleece in the summer. This allows the fleece to be rooed or plucked instead of sheared.
Targhee 75-125mm 21-25 58-64 A breed developed in the USA in the 20th century, primarily from crossing rambouillet, corriedale, and lincoln.
22-25 The breed is the result of breeding Merinos and Lincolns.
Tunis 100-150mm 24030 56-58
Corriedale 90-150mm 24-32
Great for next to the skin wear and baby clothes, felts easily.
Gulf Coast 50-100 26-32 48-58
Cheviot 75-125mm 27-33 50-56 Very resilient with a helical crimp. Particularly good for blending for the resilience and strength. Very springy. Although it has a lot of the chariacteristics of a down breed, it is a hill breed
Finn 75-150mm
50's-60's Also called Finnish Landrace and Finnsheep. The fleece felts easily, and comes in colored and white.
Orkney or North Ronaldsay 40-80mm
50-56s Seawead-eating sheep, only found on a few islands in the Orkney Islands of Scotland.
British Milk Sheep 120-180mm
50-54s Primarily a dairy sheep.
Suffolk 50-90mm 25-33 48-58 Better known as a meat breed, down breed. Resists felting and creasing, springy.
Hampshire 50-90mm 25-33 46-58 Not primarily a fleece breed.
Black Welsh Mountain 80-100mm
Dorset 60-100mm 27-33 46-58 Better known as a meat breed, down breed. Similar to Suffolk, but seems I personally have found more Suffolk fleeces in the finer range.

46-56s Breed originated in the Netherlands.
Jacob 75-175mm
44-56 A primitive breed with both white and colored wool on the same fleece, named for the spotted sheep of Jacob in the Bible. Varies greatly in fineness and quality.
Soay 50-150mm
44-50s It is a very primitive breed and is 2 coated. It has a natural break in the fleece and the sheep normally shed their fleece in the summer. This allows the fleece to be rooed or plucked instead of sheared.
Perendale 125mm 28-32 40-48 A good all-purpose wool, strong but light in weight for knitting and weaving. The breed was developed from crossing Cheviots with Ronmeys.
Border Leicester 125-250mm 30-38 36-48
Coopworth 125-200mm 30-39
A high luster wool.
Romanov 100-125mm 31-38 46-54 Usually black to silver, stong fiber. Wears well. Russian breed known for having lambs by the litter.
Romney 145mm 31-38 40-48 A very versatile fleece with even crimp and good luster for all purposes. Finest of the longwool breeds. Strong fiber and spins easily.
Lincoln 300-380mm 33-41 ~36 Coarse, but has good luster.
Cotswold 200-300mm

Long shiny ringlets.
Leicester 175mm 38-40
Coarse wool usually spun into a medium-thick yarn for outdoor garments, wall-hangings, furnishing fabrics, and rugs.
Drysdale 310mm 38-41
Hairy wool usually spun into a coarse, thick yarn for floor rugs and upholstery. Hardly any crimp to crimpless.

to be continued...