Recently DYNT received a new shipment of fleece for spinning. To accommodate the new roving, we rearranged the roving by breed/ critter - silk is between Shetland and Targee. I thought it might be a good idea to include some basic information on the bin tags, breed name (obviously), staple length, origin, etc.
For the new tags, I did a bit of research into the different breeds, which was very interesting. For those of you unfamiliar with spinning yarn - different breeds of sheep produce different wools - just like people have different types of hair: fine, thin, thick, kinky, wavy, brittle, etc. When you are turning the wool into yarn, those different characteristics influence the final product and the methods you might use to obtain your final yarn.
While doing the research, I kept thinking about the movie “How to Train Your Dragon” (which is based on a book of the same name). The movie takes place on the Isle of Berk, which is described as “twelve days north of Hopeless, and a few degrees south of Freezing to Death. It’s located solidly on the Meridian of Misery.”; and it “snows nine month of the year and hails the other three.” In the movie dragons swoop down from the sky and steal the village’s sheep. Which is only one of the problems of having dragons as pests…
Why did I keep thinking about Berk and the children’s movie when researching sheep breeds? Because it seems that the harsher the climate the more luxurious the fleece of the sheep! Which kind of makes sense when you think about it from a survival of the fittest / evolutionary/ breeding standpoint. Shepherds want their sheep to survive, and in areas where wool would be most beneficial to humans - think cold, damp, windy, harsh and windswept conditions - if the sheep can survive, their fleece is probably well suited to their environment, and therefore desireable for the local humans.
So, while I don’t want to visit a place like Berk, I’m glad to know that the harsh conditions are good for something - warm, fuzzy, squishy, soft, wool! Knowing that the critters endure such horrible weather and produce a renewable resource that allows me to stay warm, well, that somehow makes me appreciate the act of spinning that much more. (And spinners aren’t the only ones who benefit - if you use commercially made wool yarn, you benefit from those harsh conditions too!)