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How to Speak Shetland - Wool that is
Let me begin by saying, I donít have Shetland sheep, but it is one of my favorite fibers to spin. I purchase my fleeces from Twin Springs Farm. They always provide well skirted fiber that can be used with just a good wash and a flick card. The fleeces differ from one animal to another, and the color names are a language all their own.
Here is a quick reference to help in deciphering the color names (some of them are obvious but the tricky ones seem to be the most common in the sheep):
Emsket - dusky bluish gray
Mioget - yellowish or golden brown
Moorit - warm reddish brown
Musket - Light grayish brown
Shaela - dark steel gray
Of course, once you have conquered the color names, there are also the pattern names to contend with. These are really helpful to get to know, as it can be the difference between buying two separate fleeces to blend for a color combination, or buying one with the correct proportions of the two colors you wanted to blend. Here are a few of the most common ones:
Bersugget - irregular color patches
Blaeget - having lighter tips on the fleece
Flecket - white with large patches
Gulmoget - Light undercarriage with dark fleece
Katmoget - Light main color, with dark belly and face
Ilget - white with either grey or black spots
Marlit - mottled colors
Sokket - a sock like pattern having a different color leg than body
Yuglet - having a panda-like eye pattern different from the main body color
Shetland sheep, like many sheep breeds can have widely varying fibers. Some have almost a dual coat consistency, which makes for very sturdy socks because interspersed with the soft fibers are thicker somewhat wiry fibers. These act as reinforcements in the yarn to add durability.
Other Shetland fleeces have very soft fiber that while usually shorter than the dual coated type make for exceptional next to skin wear garments. This is more typical in the younger sheep, and as they age their fiber does get a bit more coarse.
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