Corriedale sheep were originally developed by crossing the Merino and Lincoln sheep breeds. They were developed between 1868 and 1910 in Australia and New Zealand to create a sheep that would thrive in low rainfall areas and supply good quality wool. Beginning in 1914, they were exported worldwide and comprise a significant proportion of the sheep found on the Falkland Islands as well as in South America. They are a dual use sheep and are kept for both their meat and their wool.
Corriedale wool is mainly creamy white although brown sheep are sometimes seen. As with many commercial sheep breeds reared for wool, the white wool is favoured as it can be dyed.
The softness of wool is often measured by the diameter of each individual wool fibre. While Corriedale wool can be found in a wide variety of fibre diameters, most falls into the 25 to 31 micron range. This makes it soft enough for most people to wear next to their skin, although isn’t quite as soft as merino which is mostly found between 20 to 22 microns. Bluefaced Leicester is of similar softness to Corriedale, and is mostly found at between 24 to 28 microns.
Like with any wool, the way the fibre is prepared and spun effects the feel of the yarn it produces. A loosely worsted spun aran weight yarn will feel softer than a more tightly woollen spun 4ply, for example.
The yarn I stock is a worsted spun 4ply with a high twist. It has not been superwash treated (you can read more about this process here).
I currently only stock Falkland Corriedale yarn in 4ply as Bluefaced Leicester tends to fill a similar gap for heavier weight yarns and I can source that from within the UK. While Corriedale is comparable by softness, it is a stronger wool and therefore makes a stronger yarn more suited to using for socks. Add this to the high-twist preparation used for the 4ply and you get a fairly soft but strong yarn that will work wonderfully as sock yarn. The yarn also takes dye well, displaying brighter colours than most other yarns I use.
Use for Socks
A high-twist yarn means the fibres are twisted together more tightly, making them less resistant to abrasion. Knitting with a fine gauge also adds to this effect making the fabric stronger.
When making socks with non-superwash wool you can expect some natural felting in areas that experience more friction, such as the sole and heel. Corriedale is no different. This is a positive process as the fibres are knitting together and becoming stronger, making the socks more resilient.
This yarn will last well as socks compared to other synthetic-free yarns, however, I have yet to find a synthetic-free, non-superwash yarn which can match the longevity of nylon blend equivalents.
You can see the range of Corriedale yarn I have available here.