ShetlandThe Shetland breed is named after an archipelago off the coast of Scotland, the Shetland Islands. Although the islands are both the birthplace and the name sake of this breed they are found on the mainland of England and elsewhere. There can be some confusion when dealing with Shetland because there is the Shetland breed, which is what we use here at Into the Whirled, and there is Shetland wool. Shetland wool is any wool from the Shetland Islands, this could be any breed of sheep or any wool from the islands, this will typically be referred to as “100% Shetland Wool” or “Pure Shetland Wool” even though it might not be the Shetland breed.
Shetlands are as varied as any breed can be and still be considered a single breed. There are eleven natural colors to this breed ranging from black and dark brown to light grey or pure white. Then there are the thirty different classifications of the patterning of the sheep (some sheep can even fall into duel groups of these categories as well). For more information please go to the North American Shetland Sheepbreeders Association web site. With so much variation in pattern and color its not hard to imagine that there can also be a large difference in texture as well. There are two basic types of Shetland where texture is concerned, there is “kindly” which is what we use here at Into the Whirled, kindly is fine, soft and has a well defined crimp. The other variety is called “beaver”, a far more coarse fiber with very little crimp that will often contain hair as well.