Friday, 30 November 2012

The Boreray Project part 1 - Discovering the Fleece

Boreray sheep are the UK's rarest sheep breed.  They are classified by the RBST as critically endangered.

So why have these sheep been a presence in my life over the past 2 years that is second only to Woolsack?  Well actually, the person to blame is Felicity Ford (Felix on Ravelry) and I'm pretty sure she's forgotten a post she made in the Blacker & Beyond with FFSB group that I help to run on Ravelry.

Felix wanted Boreray yarn and I got hunting and found out that there wasn't any to be had.  Now one of the clever things you can do on Rav is a search of forum posts, and the Boreray search in B&B has really brought back memories for me.  Helen posted that she knew of a flock of Borerays and sent me contact details.  I followed this up and in February 2011 a box of Boreray fleece was on its way to me.  I wrote in a post that I was expecting that it could be used for felt and I might make a Woolsack felted cushion with it.

We had Boreray as Sheep of the Week in B&B, so I did some research and came up with some links.
Sheep of St Kilda
Gaerllwyd Flocks 
Soay & Boreray Sheep Society 

I was fascinated by Boreray sheep - and then the box of fleeces arrived!
  Fortunately the same day my March 2011 copy of Yarnmaker Magazine arrived with a very comprehensive article, written by Elizabeth Lovick, about how to assess a fleece. There is also information about assessing fleeces written by Elizabeth in her Starting Spindle Spinning CD   (Detailed instructions with plenty of photos showing you want to look for when buying a fleece on the hoof or in a ball. A table of the different types of breeds of British sheep and their main uses to the hand spinner is included)

Using this information I started looking closely at the fleece from the box and realised it was something rather special and exciting.  There was everything from the roughest, hairiest, most kempy fibre you could imagine to fibre finer than anything I'd seen or handled before.  These little sheep had within each fleece a fibre suitable for every purpose.

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