Felting sheep with Herdwick wool
You may have read in a previous post that I try to buy only British wool now. This is due to the high standards of animal welfare in British sheep farming and shearing. Included in a recent batch of British wools that I ordered from World of Wool, was 100g of grey Herdwick wool.
I decided to look more into the breed of Herdwick sheep and discovered their sweet little faces, their attractive colouring and the fascinating facts behind how they live!
Herdwick sheep are born with black wool and then as adults have a grey or brown body with white face and legs.
They are very hardy sheep that live on the fells of the Lake District, England.
The lambs learn about the area where they should be grazing from sticking close to their mothers. They have been bred for hundreds of years to be territorial, they do not stray from their area and fences are not required. They are “heafed” to the fell.
Herdwick sheep help to maintain the beautiful rugged landscape of the Lake District by grazing in otherwise inaccessible areas.
“Herdwyck” means sheep pasture. They have been recorded as far back as the 12th century.
Beatrix Potter , the children’s author, was an expert Herdwick breeder.
Felting a Herdwick
I have made some Herdwick sheep in the past but discovered a renewed desire to felt some after a lovely weekend away in Ambleside in the Lake District. On the journey up we saw many sheep in fields and I was looking forward to seeing my first Herdys! For me it was like going on safari and being excited to see my first giraffe!
On a walk into fields in Ambleside, I saw some sheep with the characteristic grey colouring. So exciting!! (Well for me, husband didn’t seem as impressed)
Back home I got my wool out and got stuck in. I decided to make three at once so I made three heads using white Shetland batt and three bodies in grey Shetland batt. I then covered the bodies in grey Herdwick wool and the heads in white Bluefaced Leicester wool.
The Herdwick wool has long fibres and is rough in texture and wispy so might not suit felters who like everything smooth and neat, but I love the fact that it feels and looks so natural.
I added features to the face and felted the head onto the body.
I made four little legs, again from white Shetland batt, and again adding a layer of Bluefaced Leicester wool. This is more time consuming but the batt is so much easier to felt larger shapes with due to its fuzzy nature, it also works out a bit cheaper.
I felted the legs on and felted on extra grey Herdwick wool to cover any white bits around the joins of the legs and heads. ( I might be better putting the Herdwick wool on last next time)
Here’s the finished result
This one is for sale in my Etsy shop.