Shropshire wool makes a good quality hand-knitting yarn, and is described by the British Wool Marketing Board as “Fine with a pleasantly soft handle and almost free from kemp and grey and black fibres”. The staple length is typically between 10 to 15cm and Shropshire wool has a Bradford Quality Count of 54s to 56s.
Over the past decade, Lyn has experimented with dyeing Shropshire wool from the Alderton Flock, using natural pigments obtained mostly from plants. The wool of purebred Shropshires is white and she has found that it takes colour extremely well, which has inspired her to use a range of natural dyes, including the famous medieval dye root, madder (red), weld (yellow) and woad (blue). Green walnut hulls and walnut shells have created a pleasing palate of browns. Birch bark has provided pale red browns, and buckthorn bark a range of lively red – yellows.
Pippa prioritises breeding for high quality fleeces in her flock of pure-bred Shropshires. Alderton Shropshire sheep have won several prizes for wool quality: These include winning the Shropshire “Wool On The Hoof” classes at several County shows, judged by experts from the British Wool Marketing Board.
Producing sheep that grow good fleeces is just the first step towards producing high quality knitting yarn: After the sheep have been shorn, we sort their raw fleece and then send it to a small woolen mill for processing. Usually only wool from lambs and shearling ewes that have not yet produced lambs themselves is selected to ensure yarn of the highest quality.
At the spinning mill, our fleece is washed, carded and finally spun into balls or skeins. Shropshire yarn and blends of Shropshire with coloured fleeces from other British breeds is usually available from Flock of Ages. Please visit our online shop for more information.