Bowmont Sheep make great fibre

Not many people know about a breed of sheep we have here in U.K which gives us a true British grown fine fibre for our art, crafts and industry. No air miles, no foreign processors, profit stays here, tax gets paid here.

Unfortunately this breed is as rare as the legendary hen’s teeth, so you won’t find it for sale in your average local yarn shop. That’s a shame, because I (and many others like me) need a source of consistent high quality fleece, grown by farmers, rather than hobbyists, in enough numbers  to make the fleece a prospect for selling to the wool board in quantities they might be bothered about. Our wool industry is really rather sad these days. We get a token wool week, which trots out a few sheep, and a bit of designer gear, and that’s about it.

Mostly , if people are exposed to british wool, it will be from a hobbyist’s flock, or perhaps a national trust conservation flock of inappropriate fleece type. We are rarely exposed to beautifully grown fine garment quality wool, unless it has come from overseas. Ofcourse if you are lucky enough to know a hand spinner, or even a shepherd, you may know about the parlous state of our wonderful sheep heritage. It is very nearly a lost cause. Our modern taste and living conditions have made so many breeds all but redundant. Who wants hairy cast iron tweeds anymore? or jumpers that have to last outdoors?  Many breeds are in insufficient numbers to maintain a viable genetic pool; let alone the numbers to be able to select for quality fleece. Many animals are in the hands of enthusiastic amateurs, which is wonderful,  but also fraught with problems.

It doesn’t have to be so. If our farmers were encouraged with money and policy, to grow fine wool again, we would have a thriving and diverse group of local sheep breeds, fit for climate and terrain and our modern clothing. America managed it, South America, South Africa, Australia, all have found room for beautiful wool. Closer to us , so does Spain and Germany, home to the ancestors of our current fine wool breeds.We do have the expertise , the land , the farmers and the sheep. 

So, back to my wonderful Bowmont fleece. 

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these are a couple of washed locks, not really shetland , nor typical merino, those are the parent breeds. Not too long for our current processing machinery. Does not need as heavy scouring as either parent breeds. Consistent crimp, over the whole fleece. No nasty surprises, no kemp or hair.  Will go finer, for our delicate modern skin.

My sample fleece has been a real treat. I have enjoyed every bit of the processing and spinning of this wool. Yes, it ‘s fine, not superfine, but much finer than most of the commercial merino crop.  I have spun a lot of merino, between 21 and 23 microns, this is finer (around 18/19 micron maybe) and different. Not the same as polwarth or corriedale. Slightly crisper, a bit more toothsome to spin, easier to spin and wash than merino. When I lived in Oz I had access to a large selection of fleeces from UK type breeds as well as merino type crosses. This has qualities that remind me of those fleeces. Bred for the fibre. and that shows.

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On the wheel. Yup, it wants to spin fine , it makes it a pleasure to do so, I’m spinning this at a finer grist than I usually spin. It is going to make great lace. But you will need to spin really fine . Because all that crimp, means lots of recoil when you wash it, there will be bounce and softness.  How will it wear, don’t know yet, but it is fine, this is not border leicester! I will probably ply some up too and see how it behaves. 

I’ve chucked some in a hot dye pot without any nasty outcomes, so it is robust enough for my dyeing process.  

And finally some yarn, Bowmont lace, this skein, 75 gms  1140 yards, so around 1500yds/ 100gms, and yes I do mix my measures up, must get a metric niddy.

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Thank you Caroline for keeping this breed of sheep and making it available to handspinners. It is much appreciated.

you want to know more? g..gle bowmont, and don’t be put off by the hype.

fuzzyball, uk, nearly next year, what are you spinning?

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Bowmont fleece

Bowmont fleece

washed fleece

Grrrrr, Goverment uk, you thought you lived in a democracy?

Calling all our GP’s , are you really going to let the DWP walk all over everything you stand for, just because you are a teeny weeny bit afraid? Don’t like someone unqualified calling you a liar? Are you going to help the sick and vulnerable when they come to you, or are you going to do your government’s bidding?

Right now you are having to choose between doing the right thing or rolling over and pretending you can’t hear the cries of help. Maybe the B.M.A  is giving you an allowance for earplugs.

I have friends who are sick, really sick, the last people you would choose to harass, just because you CAN.  So here’s to our wonderful government who want to give loads, yes loads of money to their business friends, just so they can go after really sick people,and guess who is losing out?

Bludgers , you say, yeah we all hear about them. Wonder why they can’t catch ’em?

But what about the people who aren’t bludging , or lying, maybe your sister, or a friend at work? Do you want the government to take away their sickness benefits? THAT THEY HAVE PAID FOR. Yup that is what your national health insurance is FOR. It would pay out when you got sick. It isn’t a sick person’s fault if their government doesn’t look after the money is it? A private company that didn’t look after its’ customer’s money would get in trouble, yes? But this group of MP’s have their private projects which are so much more important than looking after poorly people. They would rather give large amounts of money to anyone else instead.

If we haven’t got enough money to look after the sick, the poor, the elderly, WHY are we wasting it? Why are our government giving it away, yes really. It will cost our country MORE by conducting this witch hunt than the savings , ever.

Check out the gov’s own documents.

You think they are only going after some folks, Hah! wish that was the case. They are going after people who have all ready gone through the benefits tribunals twice or more. Once more doctors are going to be paid to say – yes this person is caput! they need help.

Their family have to fill out all the forms again, go through the traumas again of being harassed and stressed, drag their loved ones in to be assessed by unqualified people who’s job it is to ignore all the evidence , they are getting paid to knock everyone back. Yes, all the doctor’s reports, worthless. The people making the decisions are not qualified, they don’t know what any of that stuff means. All the people who got assessed as being over 80% disabled and permanently unemployable are being made to go through it all over again. Why?

Because someone is getting paid to do it. Wonder who?

Why knock back business eh?

When you are told that no-one is going to be worse off, well, unfortunately that is a blatant lie. Anyone with a long term severe disability is going to lose out big time. Maybe a hundred quid is not much to you, perhaps it’s a lot. If you are sick or you need care, then 100 pounds doesn’t go very far, but that is another post.

I f you have your health you are the wealthiest person in the world.

If you don’t have much money you can probably do something about it, maybe go back to school and learn stuff this time. Either way YOU have a choice, they don’t, not now, not EVER.

angry again liz

Aside

some more eye candy above for those of you who are inquisitive. I’ll get some close up of flyer assemblies shortly. One thing that is very interesting is how little vibration I’m getting through the maiden assembly on the TT versus the Ashford. It has me wondering whether I should make a set of leather bearings for the Elizabeth! Old tech may well be better. My DH who is an engineer reckons it might cure the Elizabeth’s terminal shakes at high speed. I’ll get back to you on it.

I’m a spinner who likes speed, efficiency and silence, or as much of all as possible.

We are making high demands of our modern wheels, asking them to perform way outside their design limits, and moaning when they don’t come up to expectations. Even with all the extra ‘gear’ available for some models, you can feel when a wheel’s capacity has been broached.

I don’t want a 2 tonne hunk of cast iron and an industrial motor, with a cnc lathes precision head, but that is the kind of performance I’m trying to get out of my wheels.. Oh , and I want it to last at least 2 centuries and spin lace to rope. Not asking much from a bunch of sticks and a bit of string are we?

I might just have to find a great wheel to try out ext, especially with a minor’s head.

me today on fuzzyball’s blog

 

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front view

front view

tt right ashford left

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rear view tt left ashford right

rear view tt left ashford right

handmade v factory made

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tt thurmaston frontAshord elizabeth1 rear

tt thurmaston let Ashord elizabeth1 right

have a good look at the differences in timberwork and design principals