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.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Will you be mine?

Gwendolyn, the moorit ewe, is wondering WHAT on earth Lil' Rainbow has on her head! Lil' Rainbow is not sure what to say back, being the shy ewe she is and wondering herself about our mischief! I don't know why I got it in my head to do this. Turns out, just as we were in the midst of giggling and getting too stopped by in the middle of it all! Isn't that always the timing? :) So Gwennie had a few extra moments to make guesses at what Lil' Rainbow was wearing. I was distracted with my company because I didn't want Gwennie to try eating the heart. I wasn't very good at visiting at that moment and Lil' Rainbow was a very good sport about it all.

Lil' Rainbow is an iset, purebred Shetland. She is my only non-registered ewe because her teeth are not on pad. I know, I know! She is an efficient eater/grazer and probably will be for years to come, so I'm not too worried about it. I bought her for her amazing color. I could watch her all day! She really brightens up the flock, and looks so.....not modern! She's usually the first sheep people notice in my flock, and I get tons of questions on her.

Her wool was pretty coarse when I bought her, but I knew her life had been pretty stressful up to that point. So after deep thinking, I decided to dive in and bring her home. I sure haven't regretted that!! We've worked to train her, and get her used to people to reduce her daily stress. We've also given her good care, and protection. I've been rewarded with this lovely fleece, that is softening to the best of it's ability as it gets longer. Daily management can definitely affect your fleeces, just as I'd learned in seminars. We've also noticed that she is incredibly sweet and gentle, great for being around lots of kids. Below is a picture taken the day after she came home (last summer, just a few weeks after shearing).
We've received many comments that she looks like a black sheep, wearing a sheet. Kids love to see that. So we treasure her, even though we will never register her.

You know, the other day, I took our winter wreath off the front door, and laid it on the back of a nearby chair when hanging up Valentine stuff. As you can see, it only took MOMENTS for little Sophie to move in! This kitty will sleep anywhere! As I write this, she is napping on top of the printer here on my table. Oh Sophie!

...and you know, just when you think you're gonna sit down and relax with some knitting you can't wait to work on, you realize that just the process of getting the yarn out and spread out on your lap is like blowing into a duck call for cats. HERE KITTY, KITTY! I hadn't seen her all day, but the minute I'm ready to knit, there she is, swirling around, accidentally dunking her tail into my nice hot tea, biting and pulling at my yarn, rubbing on the needle ends, and trying to weasel her way under the sleeve I was trying to knit, all while purring! How does that work? If only I could develop and sell kitty duck calls....


  1. Hi Amy! Rainbow is just lovely. What color is she? Agouti grey? ... at any rate looks to be a lovely fleece!

  2. Hi Diane,
    That would be my guess that Lil' Rainbow is Agouti grey, but I don't know for sure. Her wool on all of her body is black with no white fibers, with just her "fleece" being "black, with many white fibers giving a bluish hue from a distance" (NASSA Handbook, p. 7) She could easily be called an emsket (dusky bluish-grey). This bluishness is immediately evident whether you are standing next to her, or away from her. It is sooo lovely! However, she also has that black topline, and black all around her tail, like a gulmoget, but she has an all black face. Some of the tips on her britch may have tan in them; hard to tell until I wash her fleece. Amy