Posted by Zoe Fletcher on Monday, September 7, 2015

Breed Category:
Naturally coloured/ Primitive

Heritage: The Manx Loaghtan has been found on the Isle of Man for thousands of years. They were prized by spinners and used in weaving tweeds of different colours. Manx sheep have between 4 and 6 horns, and have a brown/tan naturally coloured fleece. They are good breeders, with no fleece on their face or legs. Manx Loaghtan’s are a small and hardy breed, they have acclimatised to the Islands harsh weather conditions. In the 1950’s they neared extinction, and although still on the Rare Breeds database, they are now growing in numbers, due to hobby farmers, smallholdings and farmers dedicated to preserving the historic Manx Loaghtan breed.

Uses: The Manx Loaghtan sheep produce good quality, lean meat, as well as a lovely deep tan/brown coloured fleece, popular with weavers and hand spinners for the colour variance. The fleece is very soft and silky, and produces soft yarns for knitwear.

Breed Society website:


Handle (How the fibres feel ranging from harsh to very soft, this can alter what you would use the fibres for): Very soft and silky

Micron Count (How fine the fibres are, the finer the fibre the lower the count number, this can alter the fineness a fabric can achieve): 30-31.5 

Staple Length (How long the fibres are on average, this can affect what spinning process can be used – woollen (shorter) and worsted (longer)): 6-12cm

Fleece Weight (How much, on average, a fleece weighs, this can affect decisions regarding quantities available as demand dictates price): 1.5-2kg

(Breed characteristic data sourced from BWMB 2010)


Yarn types: I have sampled in 3ply (DK weight), this yarn is woollen spun in Yorkshire using 100% British Manx Loaghtan fleece.

Knitted Samples: I have found this yarn to be quite airy in texture/handle, it knits up really nicely - and doesn't feel too bulky or dense, i've not had time to knit up a big sample garment yet (next on the to-do list!) however from the samples I have swatched so far I think it will create a lovely warm jumper without being too heavy or bulky for the wearer - I can't wait to begin a big knit (more pictures will follow!)

...This is the 3ply DK weight yarn in a hank...

...2x2 rib on 4.5mm needles...

...initial straight stitch swatch, 20 stitches x 20 rows on 4.5mm needles...

...Moss stitch on 4.5mm needles...


Zoe Grace Fletcher Currently undertaking a PhD at Manchester Metropolitan University within the MIRIAD post-graduate department, I am beginning a practice based academic journey into British wool fibres and new technologies within knitwear design. Graduating with Distinction from a Masters in Fashion and the Environment at London College of Fashion, specialising in hand-knitting and the British Wool Industry, I have worked on a number of knitwear collections (personal and external companies), whilst freelancing and researching for a number of exciting projects. My work revolves around the idea of sustainable fashion from a knitted perspective and the different ways to achieve this incorporating the ideas of slow fashion into mainstream society. I love knitting. And wool. And double sided sticky tape.
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