Eider Wool Top

Eider Wool Top

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Eider wool is interesting, in that there is no such thing as an "Eider sheep." You may be familiar with the term "eider down," which refers to the soft-as-can-be inner down feathers from the eider duck, which is still (but now, rarely) used in pillows and comforters. Whomever came up with the name "Eider wool" was counting on everyone making that connection, too -- it is purely a marketing term, probably coined in the 1930s, right along when the breed whence the fleece is shorn was developed.

So, what is the breed? It is the Weißköpfiges Fleischschaf, or (German) Whiteheaded Mutton Sheep. (It is, admittedly, harder to excite interest about the wool when it bears its proper name.) Farmers in northern Germany wanted a sheep that retained all the useful, hardy qualities of the marshland sheep they already had, but in a more economically viable meat producer. Breeds from the UK were imported and cross bred into the local sheep, and the result was exactly what they wanted. The sheep even helped maintain the dykes by encouraging grass growth, and tampening down the earth with their hooves.

About the wool: it is not downy soft, we are sorry to report. It does, however, have a fair bit of loftiness, on account of the high crimp, which is somewhat unusual for a wool of between 37-42 microns in width (coarse). It would be an excellent choice for felting projects. The staple length is about 7-10cm. Natural white; each bag contains 100g of wool.

Origin: United Kingdom