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.
- Piebald– having irregular patches of two colors, typically black and white
- Polycerate– is a term used to describe animals with more than two horns.
Jacobs are small, polycerate, piebald sheep. Ewes weigh 80–120 pounds, and rams 120–180 pounds. The sheep are mostly white with colored spots or patches. The picturesque horns on Jacobs is what attracts the most attention. They can have two, four or even six horns. The horns grow in a variety of directions making each Jacob sheep different and unique. Both males and females are horned, but the horns on the ewe are always shorter and more delicate than the rams’ horns.
And now finally the most important part, the fleece. 🙂 The breed produces a medium fleece that is light and open, with a staple length of 3 to 7 inches. Typical fleeces will weigh only three or four pounds, and may vary quite a bit in coloring, crimp, and fineness. Jacobs have one of the widest ranges of acceptable fiber qualities of any kind of sheep. Unlike most other medium wool breeds, quality of the fleece has been a major selection factor in the recent history of the Jacob breed.
Jacob breeders take great delight in the personalities of their animals; some believe that the lack of breeding improvement is responsible for preserving a more goat-like curiosity and agility. They bear one or two lambs in the spring, and lambing is typically very easy. I found this interesting: Horn growth begins immediately and the ram lambs will be born with horn buds already poking through the wool.
Thanks to Oklahoma state animal science department, Jacob Sheep Breeders Association, The Livestock Conservancy, and The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook for information on Jacob sheep.
I am going to give this Jacob wool a felting score of 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. Ten being the best. Let me know if you have a great source for good quality Jacob wool, I would love to give it a second chance! I am spinning the remainder of my Jacob wool and enjoying that experience. 🙂
Thank you to Ruby Peak Farms for the beautiful pictures of their flock of Jacob Sheep!
- Icelandic – 6
- Jacob – 3
- Blue Faced Leicester – 6
- Corriedale – 7
- Southdown – 7