ANTRIM HANDWEAVING
STUDIO & STUDY
British
About
Home Natural Links Contact

British Sheep

In the 1970’s, there was growing recognition in the UK and the USA that many livestock breeds were in serious decline, and in fact several breeds had already become extinct. The timely establishment of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) UK in 1973, and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy in 1977, now The Livestock Conservancy, together with the dedication of flock keepers and sheep farmers plus producers and consumers of wool and meat products, are all contributing to increasing populations of primitive, rare, and threatened British breeds.

balwensheep

Balwen sheep, Wales

Photograph by Kathie Miller

Through handweaving, Margaret is dedicated to raising public awareness of the fragile future of these sheep. Woven works are offered using a vast selection of British sheep wool, many certified organic, amd most obtained directly from the UK. Margaret respects and is in awe of her wool sources. She has the privilege of working with British sheep breeders in the USA and the UK who continually battle the odds by raising sheep that are generally small in number and stature, in addition to producing fleece that is not always marketable because of uncommon colors and textures. A devoted handspinner and dear friend in the UK, also pursuing preservation, expresses the spirit of these legendary breeds with skill and artistry through her handspun yarns. With the wools from these sources, Margaret’s woven objective is for each creation to look as if it were lifted directly from the sheep itself: robust, lustrous, unrefined, sleek, rugged, elegant. The unusual and varied fleece characteristics of these historically remarkable creatures highlight each one-of-a-kind piece.

Antrim Handweaving honors and promotes the past work of Kathie Miller, Premier Breeder of British Registered Soay Sheep, Southern Oregon Soay Sheep Farms.  A mutual concern of what is easily lost and often irreplaceable, whether a sheep breed or the art of handweaving, led to an ongoing collaborative effort to preserve both.  What grew out of a simple request for Soay fleece, from a handweaver on the East coast to a sheep farmer, historian, and artist on the West coast, is a devotion of Antrim Handweaving to help raise awareness of a most legendary breed, the Soay sheep. British registered Soay fleece was rooed (plucked) by Kathie, processed at a small, family-owned New England mill, and many Soay pieces have been and still are woven by Margaret. 

© 2017 Antrim Handweaving – all rights reserved

Primitive, rare, or threatened British sheep breeds currently represented by Antrim Handweaving

Badgerface Welsh

Galway (Irish Origin)

North Ronaldsay

Balwen

Greyface Dartmoor

Oxford Down

Beulah

Hampshire Down

Portland

Black Welsh Mountain

Hebridean

Rough Fell

Blackface (Scottish)

Herdwick

Ryeland

Blueface Leicester

Hill Radnor

Shetland

Border Leicester

Holmie

Shropshire

Boreray

Jacob

Soay

Castlemilk Moorit

Kerry Hill

Southdown

Clun Forest

Leicester Longwool

Suffolk

Cotswold

Lincoln Longwool

Swaledale

Dalesbred

Llanwenog

Teeswater

Derbyshire Gritstone

Lleyn

Welsh Mountain

Devon & Cornwall Longwool

Lonk

Wensleydale

Dorset Down

Manx Loaghtan

Whiteface Dartmoor

Dorset Horn

Norfolk Horn

Whitefaced Woodland

Exmoor Horn

North Country Cheviot

Wiltshire Horn

galler8
eweonstkilda

Soay sheep, Wales

Photograph by Kathie Miller

Photograph by Kathie Miller

Soay ewe, St. Kilda