Discover royal estate Longwool flock yarn
North, south, east and west – Britain’s green and pleasant land is home to many breeds of native sheep and some fabulous spinners who transform their fleeces into delicious yarn! We’re celebrating our British Brands this week with a spin around the UK’s most delectable yarn, from laceweight to super chunky!
With a royal baby due this spring, we wonder if the Royal Mint will produce a new commemorative coin to celebrate the birth of a new prince or princess, but the crafting community is more excited to hear whether the fleece from the exclusive Royal Estate Longwool Flock has been spun to knit a baby blanket in time for the royal birth!
The flock, whose pedigree dates back to Elizabeth I, are pure English Longwools (part of the family of the Leicester Longwool, Border Leicester and Bluefaced Leicester breeds). This ancient breed was brought to Britain by the Romans some time before the 5th century and English Longwool fleece is known for its strength and durability. The royal flock can be genetically traced back to its Tudor ancestors thanks to incredible records kept by estate workers throughout the centuries. Shepherded safely today in the grounds of Windsor Castle, the Longwool flock is kept only for its fleece, to spin for heirs to the throne and royal babies from immediate family members. As lambs, these sheep have a unique fluffy appearance, as seen below – but they quickly outgrow their baby wool and begin to look like traditional British sheep.
Image source: CutestPaw.com
Longwool Fleece is spun using old, worsted techniques into a special weight, RK (Royal Knit) which knits up on a 3.75mm needle, and is hand-dyed into five specific shades – White Dove, Lion Gold, Sterling Silver, Sapphire and Ruby. Designs for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s new baby have included motifs from Prince Charles’ own baby blanket, said to have been inspired by Issac Oliver’s Elizabeth I “Rainbow” portrait, famous for the small embroidered ears throughout the fabric of her dress.
Each sheep in the Longwool Flock is named after members of royal families throughout the ages, including ewes named Victoria, Charlotte, Elizabeth, Mary, Anne and Beatrice and a rather enthusiastic ram named Harry. (A rather indiscreet rumour circulated that the shepherd had requested to name one of the ewes Camilla, but that the request had been firmly rejected on the grounds that the ewe in question might be rejected by the rest of the flock.) A source from the palace told us that during a short period in the early 1970s, some of Her Majesty’s corgis were trialled as sheepdogs for the flock! They showed great promise, tenacity and intelligence but ultimately the shortness of their legs meant that the Longwools could, literally, run rings around them and the trial was eventually abandoned. Longwools are trained in agility from a young age, beginning with simple dressage style jumping and culminating in a flock that are skilled in retrieval and search and rescue.
Image source: Tumblr
British yarnhouses have petitioned the Palace several times to be able to include Longwool fleece into their British Blend yarns, but the request was politely declined, saying “there’s plenty of fleece elsewhere in April.”
Readers, we have an extra special, April 1st message for you regarding the availability of royal estate Longwool yarns:
Unfortunately, there isn’t a flock of royal sheep who are sheared to provide luxurious yarn for the royal family. But if there was, what would you knit with such fanciful wool?
To make up for fooling all you lovely guys, we’ve teamed up with MillaMia to offer you an exclusive royal inspired baby mobile, the pattern is coming very soon (in time for the new royal arrival) so check back soon!
Last updated: April 1st, 2015.