Derbyshire Gritstone wool is of very high quality and is consistently successful in fleece competitions across the country and has claimed champion fleece twice in the last 7 years at the Great Yorkshire Show - the biggest agricultural show in the country.
The wool board judges regard the Derbyshire Gritstone fleeces so highly because it is so clean, free from kemp or dark hairs, with a good staple and lots of crimp and style.
While most hill breed fleeces are used for the production of carpets the finer fleeces of the Derbyshire Gritstone can be used for hosiery, Worsted yarns and knitwear.
There are also a growing number of craftspeople keen to use such high quality wool from native breeds to give their products a fantastic finish as well as a provenance based unique selling point.
The wool board typically define Gritstone wool as:
Fleece Weight: 2 - 3 kg
Staple Length: 8 - 10 cm
Micron Range: 31 - 33
To find out more visit the British Wool Marketing Board website
A true-to-type Derbyshire Gritstone fleece possesses a unique soft velvety handle-quite distinct from other breeds. The features below are what a wool man would expect to find in a typical Derbyshire Gritstone fleece. This assessment is given from a manufacturer's point of view, that is, the value of the fleece to the textile trade.
A fine fibred dense crimpy staple of approximately 8-10cm in length and free from grey fibre, kemp, and dirt.
Proceeding down the back he will expect to find a fibre getting slightly coarser in quality although in some cases the quality will hold all the way down to the flanks.
The britch will give the coarsest wool in the fleece. Any impurity such as kemp or grey will certainly show up in this region.
A wool-sorter will certainly be on the look out for a weak staple where fibre breakage would occur in the course of manufacture. This is usually brought about by some illness or lack of nourishment in the sheep.
The average yield of Derbyshire Gritstone wool is 68% — i.e. out of 100kgs of greasy wool 68kgs of clean scoured wool will be obtained.
Photo above - John Bowler (Torgate Flock) with his Gritstone ewe fleece which won the highly prestigious Ciba-Geigy Golden Fleece Competition and Supreme Championship at the Royal Smithfield Show (1982).
If you'd like to buy some Gritstone fleeces - get in touch and we'll see if any of our members can help.
Photo above - First prize Gritstone fleece and overall Champion Fleece at the Great Yorkshire Show - overseen by Mr Malcolm Hudson who is a judge and steward.