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Fashion – Enter Wales: Novelle Yarn Desk Top Research – British Wool Grading & Finding the Best Recycled Partner #8


For the continued development of the Novelle Yarn feasibility study with SMARTCryum and Potter Group Fashion-Enter Ltd have been reviewing British Wool Grading Standards and how wool is rigorously categorised. 

The British Wool grading system categorises wool based upon both its style and characteristics. 

The style of wool is generally determined by its staple length, crimp, fineness, handle and lustre. There are six main styles of British Wool: 

Fine with Southdown as a sub category 

Medium with Romney as a sub category 

Mule otherwise known as Crossbred 

Lustre with Bluefaced Leicester and Devon as the two main sub categories 

Hill with Cheviot, Fine / Medium Hill and Lonk as the three main sub categories 

Mountain with Welsh Mountain, Swaledale and Blackface as the three main sub categories 

In addition British Wool produces a number of speciality wools which have distinctive characteristics and are usually specific to a particular breed. These speciality types are Dorset, Jacob, Masham, Teeswater / Wensleydale, Lincoln, Shetland, Exmoor Horn, Hebridean and Herdwick. 

Within each style of wool, fleeces are graded by quality with judgements made across a range of characteristics. These characteristics include: 

Whether the wool comes from a Hogg or a Ewe 


Staple strength 



Grey fibre 


First / Second shear 

In total British Wool produces almost 120 grades of fleece wool. Each of these is identified with a grade number and short description. British Wool also produces Organic and Winter Shorn variants of these fleece grades where appropriate. In addition British Wool produces more than 20 grades of lamb wool. Click here to view a PDF that explains all of the grades and their characteristics.

Eddie Bebb, Commercial manager at Fashion-Enter Ltd Wales had a very interesting follow up discussion with Haldi Kranich-Wood Product Manager at British Wool who was very enthusiastic regarding the project and gave Eddie a more detailed insight into the major yarn spinners within the UK – listed below:

·         Laxtons – Sheepsoft yarn. But they also make many other yarns with British wool and they are fantastic company developing new yarns. It is definitely worth having a conversation with them regarding what they could offer. https://www.laxtons.com/capability.html  

·         Z Hinchliffe – There is a fantastic new stock service range by Z Hinchliffe, 2/11nm 100% British wool – https://zhinchliffe.co.uk/collections/  

·         Roger Shepley – Pennine Collection – 2/9.3nM https://www.shepleyyarns.com/the-pennine-collection  

·         Knoll Yarns – Heritage collection – https://www.knollyarns.com/product/heritage-and-heritage-heather/

·         Ferney Spinning Mills – www.ferneyspinning.com

·         R Gledhills – Kempy 100% British wool http://www.rgledhill.co.uk/british_wool.htm

·         Brierley Brothers Ltd/ Gardiner Yarns – do not have a verified range, but are passionate about using British wool  https://www.gardiner-yarns.co.uk/about-us.php

Haldi recommended that Laxtons would be an excellent company to work with to produce a two-ply novel yarn. However, before FEL embarks on the spinning process we must ensure that our second yarn made from recycled material passes all the strength and appearance criteria required.

Jenny Holloway, Richard Carter (Potter Group) and Eddie Bebb had a meeting this week with Sue Rainton Associate Director of the Leeds Institute of Textiles & Colour at University of Leeds to secure a programme of recycled fibre testing at the University. Richard will present the University with 4 grades of recycled product in order to identify the most effective partner to virgin wool.  

More on this project next week.

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