Tuesday, 4 September 2012



Critical Conservation Breed

Staple: 18-38cm

Micron: 33-42

About the Cotswold: It is very hard to date this breed.  It has been written that they are as old as the hills with references to them being brought to England by the Phoenicians between 500BC and 100BC. Other references have them introduced by the Romans with their wool known as the '[1]Golden Fleece’.  Modern Cotswolds date to the Leicester Longwools of the late 18th, early 19th century when introduced to Native sheep. As an important export, they not only played a major role in the development of many Cotswold towns and villages, but also in the finances of the nation. A wool ransom paid for Richard the Lionheart's release. The Lord Chancellor sits in The House of Lords to this day on a sack stuffed with wool to show the pre-eminent position which the wool industry has played in this country's affairs.  Cotswolds are a large sheep with long, curly locks and distinguished by a fine tuft of wool on the forehead.


My spinning experience:  Whilst not spinning [2]golden threads with my Cotswold sample, it was a really pleasant spin from a well prepared fiber.  The fiber was long and didn’t require a lot of twist. My resulting yarn would knit up with great stitch definition…with or without the gold. It would also be awesome as a tailspun art yarn. I would love to have enough to weave and whilst modern commercial yarns with silver are readily available, wouldn’t it be fabulous to spin and weave this with gold, for historic value of course! I recommend Cotswold as a fleece you simply must spin. I could have written pages for all that I have read so recommend reading further on them for the full experience.

Cotswold addendum: I was recently at the GVWSG where they had a table of old books by donation. the sheep on the cover of Cotswold farm rare Breeds Survival centre booklet immediately caught my eye and insisted on not being put down. I initially read the book by the cover and wrongly assumed it to be just about Cotswold sheep which would have totally not been a bad thing. it was so much more but I would like to add a few really interesting snippets I didn't read anywhere else.

The actual name of Cotswold is derived from Cotes, the shelter in which sheep are wintered and Wolds being hills, so...Cotswold Sheep are Wolds of the sheep Cotes. Also of interest I didn't find anywhere else is that Cotswold sheep are always washed before shearing and that every village in the Cotswolds has its own wash pool.

Lastly, it was often dyed red for Cardnals' robes. thus far the Cotswold sheep would have to be one of the most fascinating and richest histories I have thus far studied.

[1] Perhaps supported by the writings of amongst others, Herodotus(450BC) pointing to the province of Koraxis in the land of Colchis (today's Georgia, by the Black Sea) as the origin of cloth of gold using wool in place of flax.
[2] Gold, beaten, cut and drawn into exceedingly fine filaments, was woven into the wool.  The first known description of this process (Exodus 39:3). It was known as the Golden Cloth.


1 comment:

  1. Cotswold is one fibre I definitely want more of. I'm still quite new to longwools, but I think Cotswold strikes a happy medium between long lovely shinyness and softness. A sort of 'beginner's longwool' ;)