Not All Wool is Merino, and That’s a Good Thing!

flock of sheep standing on grassland in countryside
Photo by Jonathan Borba on

Are you a fan of fiber arts? Do you love knitting, crocheting, weaving, felting, or spinning your own yarn? If so, you might be interested in exploring the wonderful world of wool. Wool is not just wool. There are many different breeds of sheep that produce wool with different characteristics, such as fineness, crimp, staple length, color, and luster. Merino is one of the most popular and widely available types of wool, but it is not the only one. In fact, there are over 200 breeds of sheep that produce wool, and each one has its own unique qualities and uses. I’d like to introduce you to some of the fun and creative aspects of using many different breeds of wool in your fiber arts projects.

Why use different breeds of wool?

You might be wondering why you would want to use different breeds of wool instead of sticking to your favorite one. Well, there are many reasons to diversify your wool stash. Here are some of them:

  • Different breeds of wool have different properties that suit different types of projects. For example, some wools are soft and fine, perfect for next-to-skin garments and accessories. Others are coarse and sturdy, ideal for rugs and outerwear. Some wools are springy and elastic, great for cables and textured stitches. Others are smooth and sleek, suitable for lace and drapey fabrics.
  • Different breeds of wool have different colors and patterns that add variety and interest to your work. Some wools are naturally white, black, brown, gray, or even spotted. Others can be dyed in a range of hues and shades. Some wools have a natural luster that reflects light and enhances color. Others have a matte finish that creates a subtle effect.
  • Different breeds of wool have different histories and stories that connect you to the culture and tradition of sheep farming and fiber arts. Some wools come from rare or endangered breeds that need to be preserved and supported. Others come from specific regions or countries that have a rich heritage of wool production and craftsmanship. Some wools have names that reflect their origin or characteristics, such as Shetland, Romney, Corriedale, or Bluefaced Leicester.
  • Different breeds of wool have different personalities that make them fun and enjoyable to work with. Some wools are easy to spin, felt, or knit with. Others are challenging but rewarding. Some wools are soft and cuddly. Others are rough and rugged. Some wools are predictable and consistent. Others are surprising and adventurous.
Photo by Trinity Kubassek on

How to use different breeds of wool?

Now that you know some of the reasons to use different breeds of wool, you might be wondering how to do it. Here are some tips and ideas:

  • Experiment with different types of fiber preparation and spinning techniques. You can buy wool in various forms, such as raw fleece, roving, top, batts, or yarn. You can also spin wool in different ways, such as worsted or woolen, short draw or long draw, singles or plied, thick or thin. Each combination will produce a different result that showcases the qualities of the wool.
  • Mix and match different breeds of wool in the same project. You can create interesting effects by combining different colors, textures, weights, or fibers in your knitting, crocheting, weaving, or felting projects. For example, you can make a striped scarf with alternating bands of fine and coarse wool. Or you can make a patchwork blanket with squares of different natural colors. Or you can make a felted bag with a blend of smooth and fuzzy wool.
  • Explore different patterns and techniques that highlight the features of the wool. You can choose patterns that suit the characteristics of the wool you are using, such as cables for springy wool, lace for sleek wool, or fair isle for colorful wool. You can also try new techniques that enhance the properties of the wool, such as felting for sturdy wool, blocking for lacy wool, or steeking for sticky wool.
  • Learn more about the origins and stories behind the wool you are using. You can research the history and culture of the sheep breed and the region where it comes from. You can also support local farmers and artisans who raise and process the wool. You can also join online communities and groups that share your interest in different breeds of wool.
white sheep on farm
Photo by kailash kumar on

Where to find different breeds of wool?

You might be wondering where you can find different breeds of wool to use in your fiber arts projects. Here are some sources:

  • Online shops and websites that sell a variety of wools from around the world. You can browse through catalogs and reviews to find what you are looking for.
  • Local yarn shops and fiber festivals that offer a selection of wools from nearby farms and producers. You can see and touch the wool before buying them.
  • Sheep farms and breeders that welcome visitors and customers who want to learn more about their animals and products. You can see the sheep and their environment and buy wool directly from them.
  • Wool swaps and exchanges that allow you to trade or share your wool with other fiber enthusiasts. You can discover new wools and make new friends.

I hope this blog post has inspired you to try using different breeds of wool in your fiber arts projects. You will find that there is a whole world of wool waiting for you to explore and enjoy. Have fun and happy crafting!