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.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Longish Wavy Shetland Fiber

Next! Ohboyohboyohboy! Spinning Shetland fiber is a real treat! This is the next fleece I'm going to spin. It's from a mature pure Shetland ewe out of Dailley lines (THE original lines here in the United States). Her fleece is the genuine longish, wavy staple with the very much needed tips to shed rain. As you can see by the contrast of the dark pencil behind the fiber, that this is indeed a very fine, soft fleece!
Notice the fineness and density!!

This fleece is just washed, with the photos taken midside. Her neck wool measures four and one quarter inches long (11 cm). That makes for excellent, easy spinning of very soft, special yarn! That length of staple lends stability and clarity to the yarn. Midside wool is between five and six inches long (13 to 16 cm), with very nice tips for shedding rain. The density of the fiber is excellent....DENSE!! She is well protected in all kinds of weather, just what the unpampered Shetland needs. Britch wool, that area down the rear outside legs measures just over 8 inches (21 cm). She is fed a diet of nice quality grass hay with a little alfalfa mixed in for good nutrition during gestation (we run short of Calcium fast around here, for which the alfalfa helps). The year of this fleece was a lambing year for her.

Silky, fine, DENSE!!

This is the type of fleece that defines the Shetland breed. The staples are not "crimpy", but wavy. The tips shed wetness. Many of the early Shetland breeders here in the U.S. describe the fiber as "silky", although that word is not on our breed standard. Because it's not on our standard, I hesitate to use that word, but they are right! Fiber like this IS very silky in hand, and an absolute joy to spin. That silkiness is really noticable when plying fiber fast through the fingers; all you feel is soft!

Butter cream?

It's hard to see here, except maybe in the bottom of the picture, just slightly left of center, but this fleece will spin up with a warm, buttery cream color to the yarn that reflects light and gives the viewer a warm feeling. It's a color that pairs stunningly beautifully with other Shetland colors. This yarn never sits around!! I have no trouble selling it, for it sells itself.

Time to get spinning! (Just in time for the NEXT snowstorm!!)

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