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 30, 2009

Shetland Socks

...I just can't stop making those socks! Shetland sheep have absolutely the best yarn for socks! (Ok, maybe that's a bit subjective.) You get everything you need all in one package...color that won't bleed or fade, depth that adds interest and appeal to the eye, strength that gives your socks durability, softness that makes you wiggle your feet just for the delight of it, and just the right crimp to give you cush without excess loft. If there is tooooo much crimp, the yarn would have to be pretty small in grist ("diameter") to allow your feet to fit into your everyday shoes with the socks on. Excess crimp makes cush, yes, but I've also discovered that really crimpy yarn makes for some saggy socks! I save the crimpiest wool for other projects.

Here is Gwendolyn. She's a moorit Shetland ewe who has really nice conformation and a lovely fleece (striking her model's pose here!). She does not have the variation of fiber I'd like to see to make her a believable purebred Shetland (that means her crimp is pretty consistent from neck to tail, which resembles commercially bred sheep.) Other than that, her wool makes for lovely socks!

So of course, I had to make MORE socks! This time, I added a rim around the cuff. That yarn is (gasp!) a synthetic yarn! Gulp! Yep. I used it. It is left over from a project I knitted before I had my own sheep, or could spin my own yarn. I love using a contrasting color just for the cuff for visual appeal. I also like how easy these socks are to pull on or off in a hurry. In this picture, I've knitted to top of the sock and already turned the heel. Here I am just picking up those stitches on the heel flap to begin knitting in the round again for the gusset decreases. When I first learned how to do this, I thought it was so hard! But each sock I made (and a few screw-ups along the way), got better. Now it's not only easy, but one of my favorite parts of knitting the sock.
There are different ways of doing this step, and everyone has their favorite. Once you learn it, you can fly along here and have it done in a minute or two. Here, the right needle is inserted into the next stitch being picked up, and the yarn is wrapped around, ready to be pulled through the stitch. That little curve on fabric under the needles on the left is where the heel will sit in the sock.

Gwendolyn's wool was spun worsted weight, so this will be a wonderful armor against the cold this winter. Bring on the cold weather and let's get it over with! I'm ready with all my warm, soft socks!


  1. ONE OF THESE DAYS, I'm gonna try socks....

  2. So, judging by the pink accent yarn, I guess these aren't for me! I could use a few more pairs! Maybe I'll find some under the tree this Christmas???

    DH ;-)

  3. You should Nancy! Once you get started, it's hard to stop. :)