I have been asked many times over the years what my favorite wool is in regards to needle felting. I had mainly used Romney wool since that is the breed of sheep we own, so I didn’t feel like I really knew that answer. We have expanded our flock to Wensleydale and Blue Faced Leicester but I still didn’t feel like I had an honest answer to that question. I have decided to felt my way through the sheep breeds using wool from a particular breed to needle felt a sculpture of that breed of sheep. I hope to gain experience with different types of wool so that I can better answer your questions. On this adventure I am learning all about each breed and passing that on to you as well. There are a bunch of us felting through the sheep breeds in a group on Facebook. Join us as we share our thoughts on the fiber we are currently using and share pictures of our sheep projects. We have so much we can learn from each other.
I am finding that researching the sheep breed is just as exciting as using the wool for needle felting. Being a shepherd myself I find the different breeds fascinating and I am learning so much. Corriedale sheep were developed in New Zealand in the 1880’s. Corriedale were developed by crossing Lincoln sheep with Merino. They were first imported into the United states in 1914. Born naturally polled, or without horns, the Corriedale’s have a long face that lacks wool except for the crown. The rest of the body is covered in wool that is considered dense. At maturity, Corriedale ewes can weigh between 130 to 180 pounds, with rams ranging from 175 to 275 pounds.
Corriedale sheep sport a dense, semi-lustrous medium-fine fleece. It’s especially in demand with hand spinners. Fleece colors include silver, beige, moorit and black. The typical mature ewe provides between 10 and 20 pounds of fleece at each shearing, averaging about 12 pounds. The staple length is about 3-6 inches. One of the qualities of Corriedale fleece includes considerable evenness in length.
The pictures on the left are from Ballyvaughan Pastoral and are used with permission. I have found bunches of useful information about wool and sheep in The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius. Learn more about Corriedale sheep on the American Corriedale Association Website and the Australian Corriedale Association website.
Needle Felting with Corriedale Wool
This was my first experience felting with Corriedale wool. I have heard that it is wonderful to spin into yarn and was disappointed when I didn’t have enough wool after finishing my Corriedale sheep to spin.
Overall my experience with felting with Corriedale wool was enjoyable. When comparing it to what I am used to, Romney, the fiber seemed a bit smoother and the felting needle didn’t seem to grab it as easily and quickly. Since the needle didn’t seem to grab it as easily it took longer to felt and there were loose fibers that were not pulled in without extra work on my part. I also found that it left lines more than Romney, and what I mean by that is, it didn’t blend when adding new wool. With Romney the more I felt the lines disappear and you can’t see where you added the new wool to the project.
Corriedale felted to be nice and solid, not spongey like some I have felted with. It took quite a bit of felting to get it to be solid, but I am happy with the end product. I am going to give Corriedale wool a felting score of 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. One being the best.
I should mention that the Corriedale sheep that I made is not 100% Corriedale wool. I made the entire sheep out of Corriedale but was unable to get the finished wool texture I wanted with the carded Corriedale I had on hand. I covered this sheep in Teeswater wool to add texture for the wool coat of the sheep. I may have used un-carded Corriedale for this if I had any on hand.
There are several listings on Etsy for Corriedale roving in many beautiful natural and dyed colors, you might want to give it a try yourself. If you have used Corriedale wool in your needle felting let me know what you think about felting with it in the comment section below. Join the Facebook group: Felt Along with Teresa Perleberg where we felt together and share our experiences felting the different sheep breeds out of their own wool. Find out what breed we are working on right now.
The Corriedale sheep sculpture that I made is available to purchase in my Etsy shop.