Fiber Spotlight > Shetland Sheep
This breed was probably brought to the Shetland Isles in northern Scotland over 1000 years ago by Vikings settlers. Smallest of the British breeds, rams weigh 90 to 125 pounds and ewes, 75 to 100. Rams may be polled or horned. Ewes may also be horned. They have a naturally fluke short tail, requiring no docking.
Shetland wool has a fiber diameter of 20 to 30 microns, and fleeces weigh between two and four pounds. Staple length ranges from three to five inches. The eleven main colors include white, morrit (red brown), shaela (silver gray), fawn, grays of very dark to almost white, dark brown and black. Of the 30 fleece pattern markings, many still bear their Shetland dialect names. Katmoget indicates having badger face markings with dark underbellies, legs and tails.
Shetland wool dyes beautifully and spins easily. Yarn spun from it is soft and springy and knits up into warm, luxurious fabric. It is prized for use in Fair Isle (stranded colorwork) knitting and whisper-thin lace.
Photos and text courtesy of Rare Find Farm.