Perendale - a spinner's notes

lock of perendale fleece

Perendale was originally developed at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand in the late 1930s, by crossing bulky-woolled and hardy Cheviot rams over Romney ewes. They are the classic easy-care meat and wool breed for hill country farming. Many farms in my area of the King Country (in the western North Island of New Zealand) were "broken in" using Perendale sheep.

Perendale wool makes up about 10% of the New Zealand wool clip. It is low lustre or "chalky" and crisp to touch. Fleece characteristics can vary between fleeces.

  • Fibre diameter: 30 - 37 microns.
  • Staple length: 100 - 150 mm.
  • Fleece weight: 3.0 - 4.5 kg.
  • Uses: The Perendale is a really interesting breed, both for its properties and for the varied uses we can put it to.

A good Perendale fleece will look bouncy with low lustre and will feel crisp. To select a fleece for a special knitting project, look for one where the crimp is a little indistinct, or a bit "fuzzy". This will be the higher bulk fleece which will have better "filling ability", shape retention, and higher insulation properties. Then, if you add just a little more twist than you usually do you will get a rounded and hard wearing yarn with all the aforementioned qualities. You will also get an excellent 3 ply or navajo plied yarn.

What you cannot produce with this type of fleece is the typically smooth and dense true worsted type yarn, as the springiness of the wool tends to puff it out, capturing air within the yarn. If you do use the worsted technique you will produce a different type of yarn, with all the worsted strength and wearability, but with reduced weight and added warmth - very special.

Perendale makes an excellent woollen yarn where all the properties come together to produce a light, yet bulky and slightly crisp feel, ideal for winter warmth and easy to spin. Just cut the staples in half (so the resulting length is about 5 to 6 cm or about 2 to 2 and a half inches), form into rolags with double carders, and spin long draw, spinning air with the fibre. Put a good twist into the ply to control the yarn.

© Pat Old 2002

coloured flock against a mountain backdrop Spring time twin lambs fleeces displayed at the 2004 World Congress
Copyright © Black & Coloured Sheep Breeders Association of New Zealand 2014
Site design copyright © Chia Pan