Working with wool, especially breed-specific wool, gives you an incredible choice in each breed’s specific properties and qualities, as Ethel Mairet explains:
Every raw material has its own definite expression, its biotechnic quality. This can even be found in the various types of fleece. Each kind of fleece has its own perfect expression – the ideal thread which expresses its special quality. For instance, the Lincoln fleece produces a thread, bringing out its essential qualities, which is a very fine smooth yarn, almost identical with linen, and should behave more or less in the same way when used with other yarns, with no elasticity and capable of the smooth hard fineness of linen. On the other hand, the Southdown fleece could not possibly be spun into such a thread; its type is a softly spun yarn keeping to the full the characteristic of elasticity. Other excellent threads can of course be made from each type, but in each fleece and for every kind of raw material, there is a type of thread which belongs to it, and is inherent to it. It is the work of the hand-spinner to find out these types, and build on them, singly and in combination with other raw materials.
– quote from the chapter Spinning by Ethel Mairet, in Handweaving Today, Traditions and Changes, by Ethel Mairet, 1939
image © Louise Fairburn and used with her kind permission
A pair of Southdown sheep © Jane Cooper and used with her kind permission