Everyone knows how much I love longwools. Here is Black Sheep Gathering Champion Teeswater longwool ewe, Maddy. She is so lovely and, to this day (8 years after purchasing her), lives on my farm and produces lambs each year. There is nothing like Wensleydale and Teeswater long wool fleece. If you love the silkiness of mohair, the only wool which can give mohair a “run for its money” are Teeswater and Wensleydale fleeces.
Many people do not know that Teeswaters and Wensleydales are distantly related. In fact, according to Teewater sheep historians, in the 1840’s some Teeswater females were crossed with a Dishley Leicester Longwool. The offspring were the origins of the Wensleydale breed, which had a bigger and better body shape and because of the increased body size, soon, Wensleydales became more popular and the Teeswater declined and, by the 1920’s the breed was nearly extinct. Today, many recognize Teeswater fleeces as being “premium” and would consider Wensleydale fleeces to run a close second. Many breeders (myself included) feel the fleeces are almost indistinguishable, with the only difference being that Wensleydales have colored animals in the gene pool and Teeswater breeders have tried to eliminate natural colored individuals from their breed.
Both these beautiful breeds grow fleeces at a rate of up to an inch a month. The most coveted fleeces are the shearling fleeces (first year fleeces grown from birth until their yearling year). Factors which can affect growth” nutritional stresses, illness, climate, pregnancy/lactation, parasites and more. The Teeswater and Wensleydale breeds are not an easy breed to manage but, their beautiful fleeces are worth it. There’s nothing like seeing the beauty of a fiber that’s upwards of 18 inches long with an incredible silky handle.