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Fibre Focus - Shetland Sheep

The most important attribute of the Shetland sheep breed is its wool, which is the finest of all native breeds and shows an amazing variety of colours and patterns.

There are 11 main whole colours and 30 recognised markings. The fleece tends to be shed in spring. At this point the fleece can sometimes be plucked or rooed by hand. The fleece weighs from 2 - 3lbs.

Shetland wool is in demand for handmade textiles because of its variety of colours and adaptable quality. The wool is fine, soft and silky to the touch with a good, bulky down characteristic. 29-31mic average length of 90mm. We have a selection of 12 dyed shades to choose from. Perfect for hand spinning, hand felting and many other craft uses.

The Shetland sheep is a small, wool-producing breed of sheep originating in the Shetland Isles, but is now also kept in many other parts of the world. It is part of the Northern European short-tailed sheep group, and it is closely related to the extinct Scottish Dunface. Shetlands are classified as a landrace or "unimproved" breed. This breed is kept for its very fine wool, for meat, and for conservation grazing.

Although Shetlands are small and slow-growing compared to commercial breeds, they are hardy, thrifty, easy lambers, adaptable and long-lived. The Shetland breed has survived for centuries in difficult conditions and on a poor diet, but they thrive in better conditions. Shetlands retain many of their primitive survival instincts, so they are easier to care for than many modern breeds.

Shetland sheep are very hardy, good milky mothers and easy lambers. When crossed with a suitable commercial ram they will produce a good butcher's lamb. Being 'browsers' rather than just 'grazers' they have been found highly useful for conservation grazing.

We offer an extensive range of Shetland wool:

Shetland Top

Dyed Shetland

Carded Shetland Batts

Shetland Yarn

 Source: The Shetland Sheep Society

Photo: With thanks to Andrew Writer

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