Meet the Maker - Armscote Manor

Portland sheep at Armscote Manor

Armscote Manor is located in South Warwickshire, England in the West Midlands region of the UK. Located in a 15th century Jacobean house originally built by the wool merchant John Halford, Armscote Manor is now run by Deborah Williams and her family who have taken over the estate’s operations for the last thirty years. Associated with the Women’s Farm and Garden Association, Armscote Manor has focused many of its efforts into their local environment - planting 15,000 trees for local birds, providing homes to rescue hedgehogs, and selling Tulip bulbs to raise money for the local nursing home and hospice center.

For the last thirty years, Armscote Manor has had a special woolly project on their grounds - raising a flock of rare breed Portland sheep. You might recognize Portland sheep as the oldest recorded breed in the United Kingdom: over 900 were recorded in the “Doomsday Book”, a survey conducted by William the Conqueror in 1086 (you can even see the excerpt below courtesy of Portland sheep are born a beautiful ginger tan hue which turns to cream as they age, leaving a beautifully soft coat perfect for yarn spinning. 

Doomsday book excerpt regarding Portland sheep

More recently, the Portland herd has been joined by a flock of Black Welsh Mountain Sheep at Armscote Manor. This rare variety is the only black breed sheep in the United Kingdom, originating in Wales and appreciated by shepherds in Europe, the United States, and Canada. With such a beautiful flock, Armscote Manor began processing their fleeces into yarns for makers like us to love and appreciate! 

skeins of Armscote Manor 4ply and Maggie's Hansel Hap

This range of woolly colors is on full display in Armscote’s 4-Ply Wool Yarn: a fingering weight undyed and unbleached 100% British rare breed wool yarn. Starting January 13th, we will have three variations available at The Woolly Thistle that you are sure to love… 

  • Portland Wool 4-Ply: Creamy white made of 100% Portland Wool 
  • Portland with a Dash of BW Mountain: A light gray created by blending a splash of Black Welsh Mountain wool with Portland fleece 
  • Black Welsh Mountain 4-Ply: An all-natural Black created with 100% Black Welsh Mountain wool 

Browse the yarns ahead of the restock on our website here. Each 100 gram skein contains 382 yards of woolly goodness, perfect for a single skein accessory but worthy of a sweater quantity for your next garment. For those who enjoy playing with colors, the three neutrals create a beautiful gradient perfect for any fingering weight “fade” project such as Drea Renee Knit’s So Faded or Joji Locatelli’s Fading Point. The contrasting shades also present a fabulous opportunity to cast on some colorwork, such as Corinne’s Tapestry Cowl. Not sure how it’ll look? Check out Ravelry user Blombvi’s project page to see how it looks knit up in Armscote!

Maggie's Half Hansel Hap in Black Welsh Mountain from Armscote Manor

After a year of exploring Shetland Haps, we are all about shawls here at The Woolly Thistle! . Our very own Maggie has made a Shetland hap using Black Welsh Mountain as her main color. The drape and warmth of this yarn makes it a beautiful choice for lacework. Try pairing it with one of our many shawl and scarf patterns… 

We love bringing you yarn with a story here at The Woolly Thistle, and the wool that makes up Armscote Manor’s beautiful yarn has a story almost a millennium old. Whether you choose a modern or historic design, regardless of what project you cast on –  this heritage yarn from Armscote Manor’s 4-ply will make up an heirloom quality project for you to enjoy for many years to come! 


  • Susan Buchanan

    Wonderful article. I’ve a Hap on needles now and am
    Waiting for another delivery for another Hap, but … I think I’ll do one on Welsh Mountain sheep colours with a blood red colour in the wave pattern. Will need assistance with an appropriate yarn to coordinate with WM yarn.

  • Denise Kinsley

    I love Black Welsh Mountain! I was lucky enough to get some roving years ago and it spun up into the most wonderful yarn. Looking forward to checking out the yarns from Armscote Manor.

  • Dianne Massie

    Great and interesting read. I can already smell the yarn!

  • Terri Wells

    What a fabulous article! Can’t wait to try out this yarn.

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