Something French to get you in the mood for Le Tour

Starry night Van Gogh background with a hand dyed Rambouillet top in Wizard colourway

It’s been an exciting week again..well, not like I climbed Mount Everest or went diving for the Titanic, but still…exciting enough for me…lol and, let’s face it, far less dangerous…I mean what is the worst that can happen spinning yarn or dyeing fibres? I’m sure there’s a song in there somewhere…..but …that’s for another time 😜

It is always a big adventure for me anyway, to dye a new batch of fabulous fleece and whip it into something fluffy. With the Tour de France fast,y approaching, I thought I’d get all of you in the mood for the Tour de I mean..Tour de Fleece…with some amazing supersoft and bouncy French Rambouillet, straight from Le Bergerie near Paris ♥️

Team IxCHeL tour de fleece 2023

Also, you can still sign up for Team IxCHeL until July 1st when the Tour de France starts! There are no requirements other than having fun, sharing your spinning photos and spinning IxCHeL fibres…easy peasy! There is a prize to be won at the end though! A super prize pack of over $100 of IxCHeL fluffiness and maybe even a spindle (like I did some years ago! See photo below). All you need to so is sign up by emailing me at , before July 1st and you will receive an email from me with all the details and your discount code! Yes, you will receive a discount code for all your fibre purchases during the tour de fleece! How good is that!!!!?

IxCHeL tour de fleece 2016 prize pack

What else has been going on? Well, heaps of dyeing during the day and spinning at night…lots of custom orders are on my spinning list, angora bunny, angora and silk, gothic tops and some very special guanaco too. Plus, there are always the in between annoying things like dealing with suppliers, quarantine and import authorities…aaaah bliss…NOT, lol The things I do to get my hands on some special fluff sometimes go wayyyy over my head, but then my heart kicks in and tells me “Special fluffiness: It’s your mission in life” 😜🤣 

All the June  clubs have been shipped mid June, so it’s almost time to share the photos with you this weekend on the @ixchelbunny Instagram and Facebook page: keep an eye out!

For tonight’s special blog update I planned a fibre I haven’t offered you for a long time and I have to say super amazing to work with: French Rambouillet !!!!! What a fantastic looking specimen the Rambouillet is. Also known as the French Merino. And, here is their story:


During the 16th century, England’s frequent rival Spain began to develop a new breed of wool, one that would turn the global wool market upside down. Sheepologists differ in their theories of the Merino’s precise origin, though most believe that its ancestors came from North Africa. Whatever the source, Spanish shepherds recognized the potential of this emerging breed of sheep. They began to refine the breed, amplifying desirable traits like the wool’s fineness. In time, they had developed their own sheep breed: the Merino. As the quality of Spanish wool improved, so did its fame. Aided by Ferdinand and Isabella, who issued land reforms that favored shepherding over food crop production, Spanish Merino became the premier quality wool in the European market. 
Not surprisingly, Spain jealously guarded its monopoly on Merino wool. Exporting Merino sheep was a criminal offense, punishable by death. While Spain permitted a small quantity of Merino wool to be exported, it was only because Spanish factories couldn’t process it all. And oh boy, did France covet Spanish wool! In 1783, France’s king, Louis XVI, purchased a large property near Versailles from one of his many cousins. Louis XVI intended to use the Chateau de Rambouillet to expand his hunting grounds. (Fun fact: When his wife, Marie Antoinette, first saw the chateau, she reportedly burst out with “Comment pourrais-je vivre dans cette gothique crapaudière!”—which translates as “How could I live in such a gothic toadhouse!”) A few years later, Louis XVI built an experimental farm at Rambouillet, the Bergerie Nationale, to study animals, plants, and trees from other countries.

A request was sent in the king’s name to another cousin, Charles III of Spain, offering to purchase some Spanish sheep. In 1786, Charles agreed to sell several hundred heads from his prize flock to France. A total of 366 sheep, accompanied by Spanish shepherds, survived the trip and were settled at Rambouillet. 
One source proudly notes: “Observe that this flock, obtained for the king of France, was not a gift. These sheep were selected by the best experts, and all the best qualities of the finest races were represented.” Score one for la France! After a rough first winter, the flock began to multiply. In the meantime, political heads began to roll—literally. A devoted scholar named Professor Gilbert protected the flock from the ravages of the Revolution. Gilbert later set out for Spain in search of more Spanish sheep, but his attempts were less successful this time. Political relations between France and Spain had deteriorated. 
Many Spaniards were hostile to the idea of selling more prize Spanish sheep to their political rival. Gilbert persisted but became ill in 1800 and died while visiting a Spanish shepherd. As the Spanish Merino industry began to deteriorate, the French went flocking wild. They kept their newly acquired sheep at the Rambouillet farm under tight control and got to work. They refused to allow other sheep breeds to mingle with their flock and closely regulated the breed’s availability to other farmers. Some say that a few particularly fine English long wool breeds were carefully crossed with the Rambouillet to improve the wool, although we don’t know for sure. By 1870, the Rambouillet breed was the star of the show at the Paris Exposition, leading one jury member to describe it as “the most perfect type of fine wool sheep in existence.”
So exactly what makes the Rambouillet such a fine figure of a sheep? That depends. From a sheep farmer’s perspective, Rambouillet are larger and sturdier than their Merino cousins. Their wool is more plentiful, too, with a fine and soft hand. Rambouillet are a dual-purpose breed, providing high quality meat as well as beautiful wool. They also adapt well to harsher conditions and can thrive even with relatively sparse vegetation. From a knitter’s standpoint, though, the best thing about Rambouillet sheep is their wool. Rambouillet wool is next-to-the-skin soft—some knitters describe the hand as “cotton-y.” It takes dye beautifully and has excellent elasticity, giving it bounce and spring. Its loftiness gives it an airy feel and makes it cozy-warm. These tops are the direct descendants from this royal flock from France and are 19 micron. Rambouillet is very bouncy, fluffy and is next to skin soft with a very nice handle for hand spinning, happy to be spun woollen or worsted. 
Whether you just started spinning or have spun for years, Rambouillet is perfect. There’s something about this wool that inspires joy. Rambouillet sucks up the dye and yields rich opulent colours. Rambouillet just begs to be spun into a fabulous rich yarn. If you love felting: Rambouillet felts very easily.
The IxCHeL Art Journey club sign ups for the next round (third quarter: July, August, September) starting in July  are open for just ONE more week !! So, if you want to be part of some awesome fun and receiving a yarn, batt or fibre lovingly hand dyed and inspired by a unique artwork : Please sign up ! You will receive a fluffy parcel every month with an extra surprise too ! All the information on all the clubs you can find here :
Better show you everything about tonight’s offering !
Have fun !!!
To order: click on the link  the IxCHeL shop to see all the new colourways on French Rambouillet tops : rambouillet

Rambouillet Tops

Pure French Rambouillet

100+ gram tops


Rambouillet pinktastic

Rambouillet forest goblin 
Forest Goblin

Rambouillet Autumn Leaves
Autumn Leaves

Rambouillet wizards

Rambouillet inkheart

Dark Secret


Older Blogs Newer Blogs