Natural, undyed black, brown, white, cream and silver wool for environmentally friendly hand knitters?

Posted by heather on Tue 12 Feb 08 at 5:01pm

A surprising range of coloured wools come straight from the sheep.
Manx Loghtan sheep have moorit fleeces - a rich, tawny brown. Handknit it in moss stitch for a sophisticated, designer country look.
Black Welsh Mountain sheep have an almost black fleece with hints of chocolate brown, that spins to a beautiful dark colour. Use it to hand knit a polo kneck jumper and it shows its natural tones to perfection.
Jacob sheep can do it all, with white, dark brown and pale brown all in the same fleece but it needs careful sorting to keep the colours separate. The colours - not surprisingly, work well together. Use them all in one jumper and the result is similar in colouring to traditional Icelandic knitwear.
Not all Ryeland sheep have coloured fleeces but those that do range from palest silver through all the shades of grey. Hand spinners like Ryeland wool because of its texture and quality, use the silver grey to make a fine shawl and the colour can be exquisite.
The carpet-grade, coarse feeling fleece of Herdwick sheep isn't often hand spun. But it's a naturally coloured subtle mixture of greys and tawny brown and when it is spun will knit to an almost waterproof finish. Wear it over a thick shirt and it's warm, weather resistant and ideal country wear.
Many more sheep produce naturally coloured wools. Hand spun they are inevitably beautiful, and must be environmentally preferable to harshly bleached and synthetically died wools. The finished clothes also make their wearers look really good!

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