Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Shetland Handspun Palette

My 3 Shetland white yarns.The Whites: an unknown sheep, Angie, and Aurora.

My 2 silver Shetland yarns.The Silvers: Handspun from a yearling (left), and Sass

The Greys: Nikki (left), and from roving.

The Moorits: From roving (left), and Henna.

My 2 Shetland black yarns.The Blacks: The Iset (left), and from roving.

These are my 15 Shetland yarns. They represent not only a glorious range of natural colors, but many textures as well. In fact, I'd have to say that Shetland sheep appear to offer the widest variety of fleece of any breed I've ever worked with.

Colorwise, my samples are not exhaustive. Shetlands are recognized to have 11 distinct colors, and 30 patterns and markings. That could make endless combinations!

In regards to fleece types, NASSA (North American Shetland Sheepbreeders Association), states that there are three fleece types recognized in American Shetlands: kindly or single-coated, long and wavy, and beaver or double-coated. All of these are represented in my yarns.

My spinning plan was that all my Shetland yarns should be approximately the same WPI (wraps per inch.) While semi-successful at this, it was harder than I anticipated, due to the wide range of fleece characteristics such as crimp, wave, elasticity, and loft.

My knitting plan is something Fair Isle; either a vest or a sweater. I'll start by knitting gauge swatches, which will probably help me choose which yarns I will end up using, as I will want to use the ones closest in grist. I'll also need to figure what kind of yardage I actually have, as I begin to look at patterns. So the planning may take awhile. Hopefully I'll be able to make some progress before our weather gets too warm.


  1. Oh, that is so loverly. I don't have any idea how many twists or whatever it is that I get when I spin Shetland but it looks kinda like yours and seems to knit up or weave together fine, but then I'm not critical. My woven lap blanket was a bit heavy, however. That's a good thing, right?

  2. What a beautiful series! I can't wait to see what you come up with all that lovely yarn.

  3. These yarns are so rich and beautiful! It'll be exciting to see them become something!

  4. I can't wait to see what pattern you choose, I love the colors very earthy and subtle.

  5. Lovely yarns and they all appear to be in the "cool" side of the spectrum. That should make it easier to design.

    You might want to take a look at some of Ron Schweitzer's FI patterns to get some ideas. He uses mostly natural shetland colors which you can see here

  6. Thanks for the pix of your gorgeous yarn. And the links too. Moorit has always been my favorite Shetland color, but that Mioget sounds lovely.

  7. I have enjoyed seeing these yarns using the different wool colours. When I started spinning, someone recommended Shetland as good for beginners. Well, I seemed to spin every other wool and then get around to Shetland - and now I love it!

    I look forward to seeing how you decide to use these yarns.

  8. I think the range of colours and textures youhave got are quite beautiful and will look so subtle and sophisticated. I had no idea tht there was so much variation in Shetland. I look forward to seeing the sweater but I find the yarns very satisfying to look at. Do you ever want just to leave them to admire them for a bit?

  9. We'll have to start sending people to you to learn about Shetland Colors. Well done! I can hardly wait to see what you will make up with all your pretty yarn! :-) T.

  10. Wow - that's a lot of spinning! They're all so beautiful - I'm really looking forward to seeing your knitting project evolve!

  11. Ohhh! I'm looking forward to this one, I love Shetland wool :)

    Have you avoided the chestnut colour on purpose?

  12. Hi Judy. No way! I've spun every color I could get my hands on! *lol* Didn't know there was an actual chestnut Shetland.

  13. I have really enjoyed seeing and reading your journal entries about your experience with spinning the Shetland, and I so look forward to watching your fair isle knitting project as well!

    Your collection is quite a beautiful representation of the breed!


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