She’s so britchy..

No, not bitchy – although Ruffles can be that, too, when the mood strikes her.  She’s a real sweetie when it comes to looking for treats in my coat pocket, but grab her for shots and BOY! I guess she’s got a little cat in her.
Ruffles fleece is overall very nice, with a soft spring to it and a pleasant handle. Her colors are very consistent as to length and fineness, but consistent goes out the window when we get to her britch – “the wool from the haunch, leg and rear of the sheep, which in cross-bred wool, is usually coarser and than the rest of the fleece. Fine, or Merino-type fleeces are more even in quality.” per Mabel Ross in The Encylopedia of Hand Spinning. (Mabel Ross uses the term “cross-bred wool” to describe “all wool whose quality lies between Merino and carpet.” It does not refer to breed purity.

Celine has a looser, longer, not-as-soft overall fleece, so doesn’t show the striking difference that Ruffles does.

Willa has a shorter, finer, denser fleece and shows very little difference.

Britch wool is generally longer, straighter, and coarser than the rest of the fleece. It is a consistent length and confined to the rear end of the sheep. It can vary in how far it extends up the leg and onto the hip.

unlike kemp, which is shorter hair-like fibers interspersed through the fleece and can show up anywhere. A Jacob Sheep fleece should have very little (if any) kemp.

While I like my fleeces to be as consistent as possible, britch wool is not set aside for mulch around here.

During skirting, the britch wool goes into my rug pile. I usually use the wool for fleece rugs, but was in the mood for something different. This rug used a three ply handspun weft from britch wool. I started with washed wool (I don’t like spinning dirty wool) and spun directly from the washed fiber.

Nothing goes to waste!


About patchworkfibers

Registered Jacob Sheep
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9 Responses to She’s so britchy..

  1. Great post and great comments. I love that you use the britch and your rugs are so pretty! I’m looking forward to your post about Willa’s fleece.

  2. KathyB. says:

    I have a 4-horn Jacob ewe who not only has britches, she has a mane and quilted fleece. From what I read she is a very “primitive” Jacob and I love that about her.

    I use all my Jacob wool too. I spin a lot of it, I felt some, and I locker-hook the rest….no waste here . Plus, I fully appreciate the variety my small flock of Jacobs offer. It is what I love about Jacob Sheep.

    Informative post, thank-you.

  3. I use 3/36 wool from R & M. (I know I wrote 3/22 in a previous post, but it’s 3/36). I’ve used 3/42 and that’s fine. R & M odd lots wools are $5/lb – when they have the annual clearance, they are 1/2 price. I stock up on white or gray – whichever one is available during the sale.

  4. FarmGirl says:

    What do you use for warp?

  5. It was mostly random. I loaded my shuttle directly from the bobbin, wove, plied again, and wound the bobbin again as I went.

  6. Is that how the weft fell or did you plan the stripes like that?

  7. mudranch says:

    I really like that rug and it’s extra neat that you use almost all your wool! I do like it for mulch but to make cool rugs like that is even better. 🙂

  8. I’m not that great at guessing microns, but think Ruffles is around 26, Celine maybe 34?. Willa probably in between. Willa’s fleece is my least favorite Jacob fleece. A post on that one of these days.

  9. FarmGirl says:

    This post was so educational! Thanks! I’m about to start weaving. I’m really enjoying all these crafts related to wool! Keeps my hands busy and products happening. Can relax and produce at the same time!

    You are a great educator.

    What would be the micron differences between Ruffles, Celine and Willa?

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