The Haunui Wool Story

Some of you have been aware that in recent months I’ve been stocking a fantastic range of natural coloured wool tops called Haunui New Zealand Halfbred. So far only the Haunui Longwool range has been available here in the UK via Wingham Woolwork in Yorkshire and I dyed and sold some of this last year when I first set up BarberBlackSheep. But I really wanted to work with the finer micron count strain of New Zealand Halfbred that John and Fiona Gardner have selectively bred for many years on their sheep station in the foothills of South Island, NZ.


Summer Weaned lambs (2)

Haunui New Zealand Halfbred met so many of the criteria I was looking for when searching for a good all-round wool to stock and after a lengthy sampling and selection process and with a good deal of helpful advice and support from the Gardner family I placed an order earlier this spring and my first Haunui parcel left beautiful New Zealand entrusted in the capable hands of Ian the mailman…

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…and a couple of weeks later landed in the similarly beautiful daffodil be-decked Mid Wales via the friendly paws of Mark our local postman (who finds it terribly amusing that he has to regularly deliver wool to someone called BarberBlackSheep…)


So in recent weeks I’ve been selling a selected range of 8 shades of this beautiful wool prepared as combed tops.


The fibre itself and the way it’s combed mean it’s a butter smooth spinning experience and can be spun in different ways and for a variety of yarns and garments. I’ve had really favourable feedback from the first customers to use these tops; it’s lovely to hear that other people are Haunui fans as well as myself.


I’ve also been using it hand blended with dyed merino in a range of Haunui/Merino batts in a variety of repeatable colour ways. Check the shop for current stock.

I’m always looking at new ways to combine colour so expect more to follow!

Haunui New Zealand Halfbred is not just a wonderful wool to spin and knit with. A major reason I wanted to use it is because it is grown with tremendous care by the Gardner family.


They take immense pains to produce the highest quality wool, not just for hand spinners around the world but also with their other flock of coloured Merinos, they supply superb quality wool to the high end fashion industry in Europe.


Their exacting standards and attention to detail have allowed them to maintain a position at the forefront of the textile industry and yet still retain a really hands-on, individual approach to their livestock and also to their customers. It’s been an absolute joy to work with their wool as well as deal with them personally and I feel it’s a privilege to be able to bring the fibre from their family-run farm to spinners here in the UK and Europe more readily and to use it in my own work.

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Sometimes I get asked how to pronounce Haunui – I’m not a New Zealander of course but I believe the correct way to pronounce it is Haw-noo-ee. Give it a try!

I’m always fascinated by the stories behind crafts, especially where textiles and animals are concerned, so I have an especial interest in learning about other fibre producers and their animals. I thought others might be interested too so with that in mind I asked Fiona if I could interview her about her sheep and business which she kindly agreed to and the latest edition of the British spinning journal YarnMaker Magazine published by Dorothy Lumb includes the first part of this interview.

It’s now available from the directly from the Editor (see the linked website for details) or from the stockists listed. You can buy single editions from any of the stockists or subscribe annually from the YM website – one way of ensuring a regular spinning-related treat (and guaranteeing Part 2 of the Haunui Wool Story!)

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2016 edited to update info:

Both Part 1 and Part 2 of the Haunui Wool Story are now published. Contact Yarnmaker in the link above for back issues to read these articles.


7 Replies to “The Haunui Wool Story”

  1. This is such gorgeous wool – I’m so tempted to get a full range of those lovely natural colours to spin and knit a gradated shawl.

  2. I met Fiona at the weavers spinners and dyers association AGM this year, what an amazing story! Her life has certainly changed since she married and flew to the other side of the world. She had some samples with her and was kind enough to offer some to the delegates. There were some beautiful natural colours and she gave your details should I wish to purchase some tops. I’m hoping that you still stock them

    1. Fiona is wonderful to listen to isn’t she! So knowledgeable and passionate about producing high quality wool for handspinning.

      Due to the falling pound and various other factors affecting imports, the undyed shades of Haunui have not been in stock for a couple of months whilst the fluctuating economic situation became clearer (it’s still stocked as one of my base fibres that I use for my hand-dyeing business though).

      With future orders of Haunui however I will be reviewing the pricing structure at the time with the hope of restocking it as an undyed fibre in small quantities. So do keep an eye on my website for details.

  3. In 1993 I did an internship on their farm in New Zealand for 3 months. Working with the colored sheep was a great time … Even Ian the postman was around at that time. I was a 24 year old Swiss man.
    I am glad that Fiona and John have built an excellent reputation for their colored wool.
    I am now 51 years old and work as a paramedic in Switzerland … I am confident that I can see Fiona and John again …

    1. Ah that’s amazing to hear! Thanks for posting here. I shall tell Fiona you commented 🙂 John and Fiona have such an incredible business and I’ve learned a lot from talking with and meeting up with Fiona over the past few years, I’m very proud to call her a friend. I hope you are keeping well in your work in Switzerland at this current challenging time. Best wishes. Katharine

      1. Is there a way to email the gardeners. I only have the address from 1993.
        I tried searching Fiona and John through social media and found this board.

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