Isn't he sitting pretty? picture provided by Ambersky235 on flickr

Swaledale sheep are a type of blackface mountain sheep found in Mountainous areas of Great Britain. They originate from the valley of Swaledale (hence the name). When I saw these sheep, I feel in love with their colorful faces. What distinguishes the Swaledale from other blackfaced mountain sheep are the white circles around the eyes and white muzzle. Think of white raccoon eyes and nose. They have beautiful off-white wool which is a mix of almost creamy white hair and wool, black hair and wool and some kemp.

Aren't these babies adorable? pic provided by Ambersky 235 on Flickr


Swaledale is has historically been a multi-purpose breed. They were used for milk, meat, and wool. Now they are mainly at used for crossbreeding purposes ex. swaledale ewe + bluefaced leicester ram =mule or swaledale ewe+ teeswater ram = masham.

This family moment was provided by Ambersky235 on aren't they cute?

Some of the breed charateristics include curled horns on both sexes. They have a medium build and are thickly coated. The areas where they live are harsh and they can handle the environment well even without indoor shelter( I’m pretty impressed by this).

Swaledale on Barbrook Moor by Derbyshire Harrier


On another note Swaledale milk can be used to make cheese there is one there was a mention in the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius of the Swaledale Cheese Company. However, their brand of swaledale cheese may be made with sheep, goat or cow milk. They have keep the cheese making tradition of Swaledale intact, and that is quite an achievement.

3 beautiful Swaledale by derymay on flickr

I also found a new word term associated with sheep that I haven’t heard before. That some of these sheep according to The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook are hefted or heafed sheep. You know me when I hear a new term I need dictionary definition so here goes. From :

heafed sheep

sheep such as Herdwicks and Swaledales in the UK that graze the same area of unfenced hill area without shepherding, year after year, and teach this behavior to their lambs. Also called hefted sheep.
Interesting that sheep can have such a homing instinct after years of evolution. I guess back in the old days the sheep were basically sold with the farm. I’ve tried to find out what happens to hefted sheep if the land is sold but I couldn’t find any information on the subject. 
Here is how busy my dyepot has been getting ready for the new Basic Fiber Blend. The new blend is 70% wool , 20% mohair, and 10% firestar. The colorways are repeatable and will each have their own name. I may have some fun with the naming process maybe a contest to name the colorway?

New colorways at The Fiber of My Being

New colorway going into this  store asap. Check out Solar Flare.

Solar Flare Spinning Fiber by The Fiber of My Being


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2 Comments on Oh The Fiber-Swaledale Sheep

  1. Ashling says:

    Love the vivid color of Solar Flare. What is firestar?

    Swaledales are absolutely beautiful! Thanks for the introduction…

    • Deyaneria says:

      Firestar is a super shiny nylon fiber that can be dyed any color. I love how the sparkle adds to the batts in small amounts. Nylon is also used in sock yarns to give them more strength.

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