Wool from some heritage breeds retain the primitive fleece character of a long outer coat to repeal weather and a down undercoat for warmth. The outer coat is often coarse and has no crimp (and therefore no elasticity). The primitive genetics also retain the greatest natural color range. Primitive type wool felts fantastically, is exceptionally strong and insulating.
On the sheep: These fleeces are the opposite of “refined and consistent,” often one sheep can produce wool fine enough for a delicate lace shawl and also coarse and strong enough for rope or sails. Even within a single staple (of some breeds) you can separate five different distinct fibers. The staple lengths can range from 2 to 18 inches and the micron range from 18 to 36 microns. Several breeds need to be shorn twice a year, growing about an inch per month. Lamb fleeces will be softer with successive shearings becoming more coarse.
Choose this wool for diverse projects: coarse fleeces traditionally used for carpets, rugs, yurts and outerwear. Some have softer character and the down, separated from the outer coat is used for very fine applications such as Shetland ring shawls. Karakul and Icelandic wool felt unbelievably well. Try blending with other wools for texture and contrast, especially in knitting.