Shetland Sheep: Rich in History, Rich in Textiles

Shetland Sheep: Rich in History, Rich in Textiles! Our farm mission is to enjoy and promote the wonderful diversity of the Shetland breed by fully utilizing to the best of our ability all they have to offer historically. We believe the best preservation and management of this breed includes it's full spectrum of history. We encourage old and new shepherds alike to join in the fun by engaging in fiber arts, especially spinning and knitting, as this breed is so intimately linked with those aspects of the arts.

Monday, November 23, 2009

All's not white

This is fun. One of the best, of unarguably many things, about Shetland sheep is their color! Spinners and knitters LOVE playing with the endless possibilities of natural colors. The best part, is that natural colors do not fade or bleed.

This picture is fun. The fiber samples above come from three purebred, registered Shetland ewes. All three of these ewes look whitish to a casual observer. If you see the sheep standing out in the pasture, you'd describe them as light, or white. However, once you wash and start spinning the fiber, you can see white is not white is not white! Fun!

The first sample (on the left) comes from an older ewe named Marybay. She is lovely! This fiber sample has already been washed and about half of the fleece has been spun into eight lovely skeins already. It is incredibly soft, and has impressive luster. But as you can see, it has a lovely honey cream color to it, that is very warm and appealing. I LOVE it! I might add that Marybay is Honey's mom. :)

The middle fiber is from Iris and is not washed. She, too, looks white in wool from a distance, but upon spinning, you can see her wool takes on a beautiful white/grey/hint of black look to it. It creates lovely fabric that is warm and cozy in feel and looks come winter weather. This wool is really fun to dye or leave natural and has beautiful luster. It is also great fun to add accent yarns to the knitting, as the tricolors in the fleece allow accent colors to pop very softly, which brings interest to the eye. Everyone knows how much I love Iris's fleece!

The third sample (far right) is from Sweetie and is also washed. Sweetie has a honey look to her wool when you part it and see her up close, but when you wash and spin her wool, it has a glittery, fresh fallen snow look to it. It is bright and soft, but lacks the depth the subtle hues of undertones give.

All three are lovely "white" fleeces. It is fun to play around with the color! These are just three samples of color in Shetland fiber, for the actual combinations and hues seem endless to me. That is what makes it all so fun and creative!!

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