Our Dorset Down sheep were not originally chosen for their wool quality. We have them because they are a local breed which suit our farming need for a hardy sheep which grow well on our difficult ground. Dorset Downs have become quite uncommon, so we chose them over the also local Polled Dorset.
When we started the wool enterprise, we decided that it was worth having some spun as an experiment even though the wool is of quite short staple and not considered very exciting for the purpose. When it arrived back at the farm we were surprised and thrilled: it turned out to have a rich cream colour and is a robust, resilient wool, very well suited to outdoor clothing. It looks great knitted up in simple patterns perhaps with a bit of interesting texture and it lends itself well to patterns involving cables.
This is the heavier of the two thicknesses in which we have Dorset Down wool, and it is very substantial. It is a thick wool and therefore it is quick to knit. Despite this, I would not suggest it as an ideal yarn for a beginner. It looks very good with textures but is not forgiving of small errors or variety in tension in stocking stitch.
We also have this thickness of wool in chocolate-black from the Hebridean sheep, so if you want to work with colours, you have the chance of creating striking stripes or strong fairisle patterns.
If you are less experienced and I have put you off this wool by writing about its somewhat unforgiving response to small errors, have in mind that the cream makes an excellent contrast colour in small amounts for either the Tweed Grey Jacob and Chocolate Black Hebridean, both of which are softer and easer yarns for larger pieces of knitting. See Holly’s hat in the product gallery for inspiration!