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Native Breeds

The real heroes at Gather are the sheep, we breed and source from 100% British native breeds who produce the finest wool for our products. Learn more about our wonderful contributors below and click here to meet our contributing flocks who we like to call our ‘gatherers’

Black Welsh Mountain

This coloured sheep is an ancient breed and was described in Welsh writings from the middle ages. Black Welsh Mountain sheep require little or no supplementary feeding and are hardy enough to live on exposed hillsides throughout the year. They lamb easily, and frequently produce twins. They are excellent mothers. The breed seems to have some resistance to fly strike and foot rot.

The wool is pure black with the tips bleaching to a reddish brown. It is dense, fairly fine and soft. It is a medium length. The naturally dark colour has been popular throughout the ages. The fleece is most suitable for weaving into a cloth that is durable, light and warm. Blended with Lleyn and NCC wool it produces a variety of beautiful tones, which will be showcased in our second range of blankets.

black welsh mountain face
gather rhian
Coloured Ryeland

Coloured Ryelands derive from Ryelands due to a recessive coloured gene sometimes showing. However, when bred together Coloured Ryelands will always breed coloured lambs. Fleece colours vary from palest silver through many shades of grey to black. Occasionally fawn or dark brown may occur and the body colour may be uniform or spotted or patched. The breed standard always requires them to have white “teardrops” and a “mealy” mouth.

It is through our Son, William’s, love of Coloured Ryelands that Gather was born and when we snuggled up to our first Stembridge blanket it was like cuddling our favourite Coloured Ryeland, Alice.

Ryeland

Ryeland sheep are amongst the oldest of the established native British sheep breeds. The wool clip was of exceptional quality and was mostly sent to Flanders, highly important in the wool trade at this time, and also to Italy, fetching the highest price in Europe in the 13th-14th centuries. Ryeland wool became the measure against which the quality of other wools was assessed,  possibly helped by the supposed fact that Queen Elizabeth I swore that she would only wear stockings made from Ryeland wool. The wool became so highly valued that it was termed “Lemster Ore”. It is also believed that the Lord Chancellor’s seat in the House of Lords, the “Wool Sack”, was originally stuffed with Ryeland fleeces. It has since been re-stuffed with wool from around the Commonwealth as gesture of unity and friendship.

The breed itself is of a docile nature, making them easy to handle and popular with smallholders. They always prove popular at the agricultural shows due to their “Teddy Bear” appearance. Through the agricultural shows in the South West of England Gather established links with our “Gatherers”, giving fellow pedigree breeders an outlet for their wool. These fleeces make up our first range of blankets; Stembridge, Windsor, Emborough and Hollyheath.

Lleyn

The Lleyn is a medium sized lowland sheep weighing up to 75kg at maturity, renowned for their hardiness, prolificacy, easy lambing, strong mothering instinct, milkiness and easy handling.

The wool is white and free from any coloured fibres or kemp and is of good length, dense and of high quality with plenty of crimp.

We have combined the very finest of pedigree Lleyn wool with North Country Cheviot to make a more lustrous yarn to be used in our second range of blanket, so watch this space.

lleyn sheep face
lleyn sheep
North Country Cheviot

The Cheviot is a big, long, ruggest white sheep which combines thriftiness and healthiness with prolificacy and strong maternal qualities. It is the largest of all the UK Hill breeds and is particularly suited to grassy hills and uplands, though will adapt to most environments. 

The Cheviot fleece varies in quality from fine to coarse and has many applications, making this wool very versatile. It is a good, white colour overall. It is not too crimpy and is quite resilient, which makes Cheviot wool suitable for filling purposes. The fineness is approx. 30-35 microns and length, 80-100mm. Perfect for hand spinning, hand felting and many other craft uses

We have collected the finest pedigree Cheviot wool from an award winning breeder in Devon to blend with Black Welsh Mountain and Lleyn wool for our second range of blankets.

Welsh Mule

Welsh Mules are the progeny of a registered Bluefaced Leicester ram crossed with the Welsh Mountain, Beulah or Welsh Hill Speckled-face ewes, all hardy, healthy Welsh hill breeds which impart their best qualities to their offspring. Therefore the wool clip has the lustrous nature of a BFL with the density of a welsh mountain, making it an ideal fleece to be used in our second range of blankets.

Jacob

The Jacob sheep is classed as an improved breed of coloured sheep. The fleece is popular with spinners and weavers alike and the natural un-dyed colours of its wool make distinctive garments.

There are two colours which make up a Jacob fleece: dark brown and white. The ratio of the two colours varies vastly between sheep and fleeces can range from almost all brown to all white with only small patches of brown.

The fleece of a Jacob is light, soft, springy and open with little lanolin and varies in crimp and fineness. Jacobs are shorn once a year, usually in the spring and the medium-fine wool is sought after by handspinners if it is free of kemp (brittle wool that does not accept dye and also minimises the value and quality of wool). When preparing Jacob fleece for spinning and during spinning itself, the colours of the fleece can be separated or blended to produce a yarn of various shades ranging from nearly all white to grey to nearly all black.

Jacob sheep
Blue Faced Leicester

One of the most well known of the longwool native breeds the BFL rams sire Mules by crossing with over 40 other British breeds. Their wool is much favoured as it is crimped, fine, lustrous and is one of the softest of the UK wool clip

Shetland

What the Shetland lacks in stature it makes up by its wonderful fleece. These little beauties are a varied breed with 11 different whole colours and 30 recognised marking types. Their wool is one of the finest of all native breeds, being extremely soft and having exceptional crimp. In the show ring they are exhibited in their working clothes with no trimming allowed. They have become increasingly popular amongst smallholders due to their size, wool and tasty meat

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