Spring 2007 Flock Registry

Shetland Sheep

Much of the history of Shetland Sheep has been shrouded in mystery as there is little written concerning them. Shetlands belong to the northern European short-tailed group of sheep. A long held theory was that they were descendents of sheep brought to the Shetland Islands by the Vikings more the 1,000 years ago.

A more recent theory suggests that Shetlands are descendants of indigenous sheep that pre-dated the Vikings.

Because of their isolation, the Shetland sheep evolved to become the perfect occupants of a very harsh and unforgiving environment. Inhabitants of the islands depended on these small and efficient sheep for most of their fiber needs, from soft, downy under garments to sturdy, resilient outerwear durable enough to withstand the damp climate and the fierce north winds that prevail in the area.

As Shepard's grew more experienced with the different aspects of Shetland fleeces, the spinners and knitters also perfected certain elements of design and application. Island knitters became world renowned for their ability to spin and knit wedding shawls that can easily pass through a woman's wedding band. At the same time, Shetland sweaters are regarded as one of the sturdiest and most durable types known, as well as the most naturally colorful. The intricate designs And intense patterns are stunning in detail.

Utilizing Shetland Fleeces

In North America, the focus is to preserve the Shetland breed and the varieties with in the breed. Although this may appear to be in conflict with the Shetland Flock Book Society breed standard, whose purpose is to improve the quality of Shetland wool, the North American Shetland Sheepherders Association board of directors adopted the standards of the Shetland Flock Book Society to have guidelines for selection of Shetland breeding stock. Although Shetland fleeces require more attention to the characteristics within individuals fleeces for maximum potential, this is an exciting aspect. In an era of homogenization, there is a definite quest for something different and special. No finer example of individualism can be found then the Shetland Sheep.

Wool Types

Longish and Wavy:
Most typically seen. Fleece lengths are normally in the 4"-6" range, with a slight wispiness on the ends of each lock. The fleece has a very open quality with the ends of each lock well closed. Spins very easily. Nice for worsted wool applications, as in fine woven fabrics or knitwear with well defined patterns that must be retained.

Extremely soft and downy. Roos nicely if caught in time. Short staple, typically 2"-4" in length. Has a tendency to collect debris, but this can easily be removed through the use of the combing process during fiber preparation. Ideal for the softest, next to the skin garments such as baby clothes.

Double Coated/Beaver:
Long and luxurious. Fleece lengths are usually in the 6"-10" range and even longer. The ideal double coat has well-defined separate coats that can be readily separated. The outer coat is hair like, while the undercoat is soft and downy. The two coats maybe spun separately or together. The outer serves as a protective layer against harsh weather. This is the most versatile fleece.

Colors & Markings

Black, Gray, Dark Brown, Moorit, Mioget, Shaela, Emsket, Fawn, Mooskit, White, and light gray

Bersugget-irregular patches of different colors; variegated.
-having a complete circular band of different colors around the neck.
-with white back and darker sides and belly, or conversely.
-having a lighter shade on the outer part of the wool fiber, especially in Moorit and Dark Brown sheep.
-white with irregular dark patches resembling ground partly snow-covered.
-with white spots on nose and top of head.
-dark colored with white stripe down forehead or conversely.
-having stripes of another color across body.
-dark colored with white colored breast, or conversely.
-White with large black or brown patches.
-Black spotted with white head and black spots around eyes.
-having light under parts with dark colored body.
-white with spots of different color, usually gray and black.
-dark colored with many white fibers giving bluish hue from a distance.
-having a light colored body usually gray or Moorit with dark belly and legs.
-having light colored nose and jaws.
-having neck of a different color from the rest of the body, usually only the front part of the neck.
-dark colored with white around eyes and neck.
-dark colored with white patch on top of head.
-various shades of different colors, mottled.
-dark and light patches usually around the eyes and ears.
-white with dark patches on face.
-white with dark nose and jaws or conversely.
-Any color with a white face.
-stripes of different colors on sides.
-dark colored with white around the mouth, head or neck.
-with legs of a different color then that of the body.
-dark color with small whit spots, or conversely.
-light colored body with white face.
-having color around eyes different from remainder of body.

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