Fleece ideally suited for worsted cloth
This is a Yorkshire World Collections object, one of 100 chosen by young people aged 16-24, as part of the London Cultural Olympiad programme Stories of the World.
You might not expect to find a sheep in a museum, but don't worry: this one is here for good reason. The Merino sheep is one of four breeds acquired by Bradford Industrial Museum to illustrate the breeds which were important to the city's famous textile trade.
Merino wool is fine and fast growing, and widely thought of as the best in the world. The wool was first imported to the UK in the early 19th Century, and promoted by King George III himself, who kept a flock at Kew Gardens. Although Merino sheep were first bred in Spain, they were most successful when they were introduced to Australia. It was this wool which ended up in the textile mills of Bradford, where the long and lustrous strands were ideal for the production of worsted cloth.
Look at our other resource 'Terrible Times for Children' to find out more about worsted and working conditions in Bradford's woollen mills in the textile revolution.
- Thes days fabrics are often of mixed fibres. What items of clothing can you think of that are more likely to be pure wool or sheepskin and why?
- Look at the resource Jobs for Children and make a list of the differences between children's lives then and now
- Discuss whether children in different parts of the world have to work now as children used to during the textile revoution in England years ago.
- KS1 Science - Materials. Look and feel clothes made from sheeps wool (slippers, gloves), knitted jumpers etc. Compare with clothes that seem to be made from wool but are actually made from 'man made' fibres. Talk about fabrics that clothes were made in the past and now.
- Ask children to collect bits of fleece from fields if they can to appreciate the greasiness of its lanolin. Use 'carders' (borrowed from hobby spinners) to demonstrate combing the fleece clean (or look at image in From wool to Cloth).
- Look at From Wool to Cloth to understand how fleece is made into cloth.