Babydoll Southdown Blend Tops
Babydoll Southdown Blend Tops
The Southdown is undoubtedly the oldest of the English down breeds and was the first recognized breed of British Sheep to be introduced into Australia.
Records show that Reverend Samuel Marsden imported Southdown's from England soon after his arrival to Australia in 1793.
After 1950 the popularity of the Southdown started to decline and breeders took to developing a heavier and longer Southdown, larger in size, with longer necks, cleaner faces and less wool around the eyes and ears - a breed to suit the Australian commercial meat market. During the change from the small compact Southdown to the large modern Southdown, a few studs continued to breed with the small bloodlines and the type of Southdown we now call Babydoll survived. Finding favour among hobby farmers, vineyards and orchards with their docile temperaments and ease of handling, Babydoll's were fast finding a place among sheep owners Australia wide. Maturing between 45-62 cm in size these friendly sheep with their woolly face and legs, teddy bear smiles and adorable lambs are in great demand with eager buyers sometimes finding themselves on long waiting lists.
It is estimated there are less than 350 purebred ASSBA registered Babydoll type ewes in Australia with most breeders eager to add to that number. Although they are now called Babydoll's due to their similar size and look of the American Babydoll, there have been no imports from America. Often also referred to as Olde English Babydoll Sheep our Australian Babydoll's do not contain any bloodlines of this American breed either.
Southdown Babydoll is a down like, springy “perfect for socks” fibre ! It is versatile, resilient, medium handling wool, that have dense blocky fleeces , almost rectangular staples that tend to hold together well. It is light, soft, and grippy; perfect for a modified half-backward/half-longdraw double drafting sort of quasi-technique that lets you spin super fast, and then squish out the air before wind-on (because socks have to wear well). Fast as woolen. Firm as worsted. The best of both worlds. Southdown is not over eager to felt so whatever you make may be machine washed (try a swatch first though!).
I have combined it with another breed not so eager to felt either : Blue Faced Leicester! I wanted the characteristics of the Babydoll Southdown but with a bit more lustre and shine so that was why I blended it with Blue faced Leicester, mulberry silk and Tencel: Tencel to add that little bit of pearlescence to it as well as providing a bit of strength: in short : the perfect sock blend !!
Intrigued by these sheep, you can read more about their history on the IxCHeL blog (of August 4th 2023).
Fibre Top Roving details
Weight per top: 100g / 3.52oz
Contents: Babydoll Southdown 40%, Blue Faced Leicester 20%, Mulberry Silk 20%, Tencel 20%
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