Wool is a beautiful, natural product all too easily overlooked in a world filled with synthetic, chemically manufactured materials. It has a huge variety of textures and natural colours and can be used in many different ways – it can be tough and durable or soft and delicate – and is completely eco-friendly. We are hugely proud of our sheep, and the beautiful wool which they produce for us each year. Most small flock owners simply throw away the wool which is shorn from the sheep each summer – the time, effort and cost of processing it into something special is simply prohibitive. We know that our woolly offerings are expensive – but they are unique, made with love, and barely turn a profit!
Our primary flock is of rare breed, Balwen sheep. They are a small, slow-growing breed that originated in the hills of Carmarthenshire (“Balwen” means “White Blaze” in Welsh). Each lamb is born with a black fleece which often changes, as it gets older, into a deep chocolate brown, with some eventually turning grey in their second or third year.
Our secondary flock is of Katmoget Shetland sheep – cream and grey coloured with distinctively striped faces and dark underbellies. Shetlands are a small, hardy breed famous for the quality of their fleece (and their mischievous nature!) and they've settled in well with their Welsh cousins.
Our sheep are shorn in early summer each year, and the fleeces are turned into a high-quality wool by the Natural Fibre Company in Launceston, Cornwall.
Our luxury blankets have been woven by a small mill in Bristol, with the loom set to create a double-sided pattern, to highlight the best of each variety of fleece. Each blanket measures 195 x 135 cm, and costs £165.
The throws, shawls and scarves are all hand-woven by an amazing craftsman in Bovey Tracey on Dartmoor. He uses a foot powered loom which has been running for decades. The throws/shawls measure 160 x 85 cm, and cost £90. The scarves measure 185 x 22 cm, and cost £45.
All our wool is undyed and unadulterated – as natural a product as you could wish for. The brown chocolatey wool comes from our Balwen flock, with the contrasting soft grey from our Shetland sheep. Each design is unique to the Smiling Sheep, with only a very limited number of pieces being produced each year.
Our sheepskins are even more limited in number. They are all tanned, locally, in Buckfastleigh on Dartmoor (one of the last remaining tanneries left in the country). The sheepskins cost between £65 and £85.
We also produce knitting wool, in Balwen brown – Aran and Double Knit. A pack of four 50gram balls cost £16.
We can ship throughout the UK and internationally (we can also gift wrap) - please contact us for details and rates.