Rare Breeds Conservation Society of New Zealand

Rare Breeds Fibre

Arapawa Sheep

Felted Arapawa garment
Felted Arapawa wool garment made by Jane Ewers and entered in the 2009 World of Wearable Art.

Arapawa fibre is normally very fine and extremely bouncy. It feels similar to Merino in its softness and fineness however the loft in the fibre makes the yarn beautifully bouncy and traps a lot of air which makes a very light and warm garment with a lovely squishy feel to the wool.

Arapawa staple length is much shorter than modern hybrid sheep and normally only needs to be shorn once a year, preferably before summer.

The fibre works best spun with the woollen longdraw technique which helps to trap in most of the air and because the fibres are shorter, a random carding technique seems to work best for it.

Fibre length tends to be in the 75–125 millimetre length range, with older animals producing longer fleeces than lambs. There is little evidence of quality degradation with age, and fleeces produced on older ewes tend to be just as fine and soft as those from hoggets and lambs.

On close inspection the fibres have hundreds of tiny crimps along the staple which will be why the Arapawa fleece has such high loft.

Colours in some Arapawa flocks may range through black, brown, mouflon, and pale golden to a large variety of spotted sheep – white spots on black and other colours, or largely white animals with a variety of coloured spots from black and brown through to the light golden colours. Arapawa fibre over-dyes extremely well – even the darkest brown colour can be overdyed resulting in an intense and moody coloured garment when knitted up.

Handspun Arapawa yarn
Handspun Arapawa yarn.
Different shades
Different shades of spun Arapawa yarn.
Handspun Arapawa
Handspun Arapawa shawl.
Different shades
Samples of overdyed Arapawa wool.

  Fibre Introduction  

  Breeders Directory  

  Arapawa breed page  

Thanks to Jane Holm ‘Awesomely Arapawa’ for supplying information and photographs.
Photograph of felted garment by Bronwyn Ewers.
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