breed of the week: Border Leicester and last markets until spring

by Gretchen Frederick December 18, 2014

breed of the week: Border Leicester and last markets until spring

Our last weekend for farmers markets until Spring

Where ever you might be located, there could be a farmers market this weekend near you. Farmers will truely appreciate it if you come. Find wonderful things to make your Christmas/Hanukah/Solstice celebrations bright: good things to eat, hall decking greens and interesting presents and stocking stuffers. Try a turnip in the toe of a stocking to change things up. At a farmers get double karma points for shopping local.

We will have yarn and roving, kits, gift certificates, freshly bottled honey and two fabulous Karakul pelts. Last time out for out two clearance yarns (20% off): Corrie Bulky and the BL aran.

Border Leicester | Solitude Wool
Breed of the Week: Border Leicester!

A decade ago, before Sue and I created Solitude Wool, I was keeping sheep at a nearby farm so I could have more sheep (our farm, Solitude is really little). Along with my own Romneys I also shepherded a small flock of Border Leicester sheep. They are very personable sheep and I have a soft spot for them.

One of several English Longwool breeds

In the 1700’s, Robert Bakewell (big name in breeding) began improving Leicesters with a line breeding program. This was very innovative for the time. Two of his followers took some of those sheep up to the border counties near Scotland and continued to develop them to local preferences, creating the Border Leicester.
Easy to recognize, these sheep have clean heads and legs, distinctive roman noses and long upright ears. If you saw Babe (one of my favorite movies, perfect for Christmas time), Ma and the flock at Babe’s farm are Border Leicesters.

Distinctive fleece

Border Leicester Fleece | Solitude Wool

Described as pencil locks, the fleece is in little sections, has beautiful crimp, is quite lustrous and has little curled tips. There are both white and natural colored sheep.

Just slightly coarser than Romney, Border Leicester is also easy to spin and dyes beautifully! Beauty and strength...just the combination we like.

Border Leicester is one of our staples (pun sort of intended). Our Border Leicester sport weight yarn comes in both white and a natural gray. It is semi-worsted spun to emphasize it’s lustre and drape and it has wonderful stitch definition. This is one of the batches I dye with natural

Border Leicester Knit Garment | Solitude Wool
(botanical) dyes, and mother nature is THE best colorist!
Recently, we also created Border Leicester roving in several dyed in the wool colors (not botanical dyes, weak acid dyes).

Will have the yarn and roving at the markets this weekend. 6% off at market.

Patterns for really lovely items made with this yarn by three designers (first two I will have at market):

Cheryl Chow’s climbing ivy vest

Kathy Owen’s border classic scarf and

Reah Janise Kauffman’s diamond lace capelet (free on Ravelry)


I started this email before the sun came up and only have a couple hours left until it sets again. The Winter solstice is almost here. It makes you realize how much like a plant we are, stretching for the light: Christmas lights, mid-day outside chores, firelight, candlelight...even incandescent. Soon the days will grow longer (looking forward to it!). Wishing everyone find joy and light in this dark season.

Happy Holidays from Solitude Wool (Gretchen, Sue, Debbie and Lynn)!

Gretchen Frederick
Gretchen Frederick


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