Norway’s wool marketing organisation, designates the quality description C1 as white, crossbred wool, grown outdoors and shorn in Autumn. “Crossbred” is a breed reared in Norway, being approximately 80% Norwegian Dala with the other 20% made up of Cheviot, Steigar and Rygja. The class C1 is soft, crimpy wool with high bulk. The fibres should be longer than 70 mm and finer than 38 microns. Good whiteness after scouring is demanded. C1 is particularly renowned for its strength, gloss, elasticity, resistance to wear and lasting appearance even after long-term use and wash. It also is regarded as ‘clean’ and having good colour, as the sheep are reared in a clean environment. This makes it excellent for dyeing.
C1 is perfect to use for felts that must be durable, non-pilling and still look great with long-term wear and heavy use. It is excellent for moulding, needle felting and spinning. C1 wet felts similarly to Corriedale wool.
The Norwegian Dala sheep is the most numerous cross breed in Norway and is widespread throughout the country, being a cross of Spæl-sheep and the British breeds Cheviot, Leicester and Sutherland. Dala are bred for both meat and wool. The sheep are mostly white (10% are black) and both rams and ewes are polled with long tails.
The Cheviot breed, white with long tails, originated in the Cheviot Hills, on the border of England and Scotland. Recognized as a hardy sheep as early as 1372, Cheviots did well in those bleak, windswept conditions, with their strong constitution, easy lambing, well developed mothering instinct and fast maturity. It has been bred pure in Norway since the middle of the 18th century, and is the smallest of the long tailed Norwegian breeds.
Steigar is a mix of Spæl-sheep, Cheviot, Sutherland and some Leicester, along with some Finnish Land-breed.
The Norwegian Rygja sheep is originally from Rogaland in south west Norway where, in the 18th century the local Norwegian Spæl sheep was crossed with several imported breeds, such as Merino, South Down, and Leicester. After 1860 mostly Cheviot and Sutherland sheep were imported and had also an influence. It is known for producing shiny wool, almost free of medullated fibres but with less bulk than the wool of Dala and Steigar sheep.
The number of Steigar and Rygja is decreasing because since 2001 they have been part of the combined breeding population of Norwegian white sheep together with the other long tailed breeds such as Dala.