During the frigid winter months, the sheep that call the Thompson-Neely House and Farmstead home need lots of wool to stay warm. But when the weather warms up in the spring, it’s up to us to help them shed their winterwear.
Washington Crossing Historic Park traditionally shears its sheep during a public event each spring, using their wool to demonstrate how colonists would have processed the wool for various textiles.
In 2017, we took it one step farther. Through a partnership with Blue Mountain Farms and Fiber Mill in Harrisburg, the park has turned the wool into skeins of yarn that are for sale to the public.
The skeins are made from wool sheared from the park’s heirloom breeds, including Leicester Longwools (named Clark Kent, Gilligan, Skipper and Yellow Man) and one Cotswold (named Madeline). This type of wool is commonly used by knitters, hand-spinners and weavers looking for wool accurate to the colonial era.
“Cotswolds produce a sturdy wool, and the structure in the yarn offers good definition in lace designs,” says Connie Unangst, the park’s museum gift shop coordinator. “Whereas Leicester Longwools produce a wool that’s softer and finer than other breeds, which is why it’s prized for its luster and dye acceptance.”
Prices vary by breed and yardage. The skeins are available in the Visitor Center gift shop, located at 1112 River Road, Washington Crossing, PA.
Skeins may also be purchased through Etsy and can be shipped anywhere in the United States.