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Meet the flock

All about Shetland sheep - and why we love them

Shetland sheep are one of the smallest native British breeds. They are known for their wonderfully soft, warm, hard-wearing, crimped fleece; the finest of any British sheep. It’s this ‘crimp’ that gives Shetland wool the characteristic ‘bounce’ and ‘feel’ that Shetland wool-lovers crave. Although hard-wearing, it is also remarkably fine; the wool from the neck of the sheep is used to produce gossamer lace. This lace is so delicate that a 6ft square weighs just 3oz and can be pulled through the band of a wedding ring; in fact, it is often used in bridal veils, perfect for a chilly winter wedding day.

What makes their wool so distinctive

It comes in 11 main colours and 30 patterns and markings, although solid white, solid moorit (reddish-brown) and black are the most common. Shetland wool is often used undyed to create beautiful, natural knitwear. Here at Ewingston, we have the full range of colours in our flock.

Hand shearing and rooing

Shetland sheep shed their fleece in the spring. The growth of their new fleece causes a ‘rise’: where the old breaks away from the new. The wool is then hand-sheared or ‘rooed’ by hand – which looks a bit like plucking. Although this sounds uncomfortable, the sheep actually find it really relaxing – we imagine it must feel a bit like someone brushing your hair.

Wool with personality

Shetland sheep are charming, calm and docile, but also very intelligent. All ours are hand-reared and have their own individual personalities, which is why we love them. We halter-train them, so they are happy being led in the show ring, as well as being hand-sheared and rooed. 

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