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.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Solving the Problem!

The more I think about it, it's a great idea! We could have two categories at shows! One for the genuine, true Shetland sheep who exhibits fleece just as the 1927 Breed Standard says: extra fine and soft texture, longish, wavy, and well know...the sheep with the lovely drapey soft and fine, wavy fleeces that appeal to everyone and draw people to our breed...and the originators of the genuine Shetland textiles! This category is perfect for handspinners and knitters, for genuine Shetland sheep are one of the world's premier handspinning breeds! These sheep are so appealing in their twinkling expressions, balanced faces, and refined bone. Their "alert and nimble, with a smart active gait" character positively glows not only in the show ring, but in photos as well. They endear a lot of people, and it really isn't fair for the other category to have to compete with that in the ring!

The other category can be the breeders who are breeding for 2002 Appendix A type commercial, more modern sheep. They would be better in a class of their own, as their sheep have a hard time competing with the brightness of the genuine Shetland and it's soft, wavy, draping fiber. Since Appendix A wool is not the original fiber of the famous Shetland textiles, but rather a creation from people outside the Shetland Islands to the south, they should not be represented as genuine Shetland sheep, for that would be deceiving the public. This category is perfect for those wishing to send their wool out to be milled, for it is short and harder to handspin. Since Appendix A is written by non-Shetlanders, in more modern times, in a country where handspinning is barely breathing, it would be most accurate to call Appendix A sheep modern, for milling. And since they often manifest characterics closely resembling other breeds, they would find fairer competition in challenging each other, rather than the bright genuine Shetland of the famous textiles. After all, this is what this group has been complaining about for a few years now, that their sheep have a tough time competing against the authentic, historic sheep.

I think this might be the very solution! Two categories within our breed! Genuine Shetlands with 1927 Breed Standard expressions, gaits, refined bone, and soft, fine, longish and wavy fleeces who produce fine handspinning fiber, and 2002 Appendix A Modern Shetlands with short fleeces, more muscling, heavier bone, dished backs, and crimp head to tail who produce fiber better suited to milling.

Now the judges would have an easier time judging, the public would no longer be misinformed about which sheep created the famous textiles, and the 2002 Appendix A Modern sheep breeders would have fairer competition!

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