Shetlands are ancient sheep descended from the Soay, which are native to the Northern Isles of Scotland, and breeds brought to the area by Norwegian settlers around 500 AD. They are small, hardy, and well-adapted to extremely harsh climates.
Shetland fleeces weigh 2-5 pounds and can be double coated with a short fine undercoat and a long, hairy outer coat, single-coated with short-stapled, fine, crimpy wool; or “transitional” double coated with an even, difficult to separate mix of fine short fibers and longer, coarser fibers. Thus, staple length and micron counts range dramatically. The Shetland Sheep Society gives an average of 23 microns for most fleeces, but they can range from 10-20 up to 30-60 microns. The staple length is similarly varied depending on type, from 6 inches. Shetlands grow dense fleeces with triangular locks, in eleven colors.
Combed top made from wool grown on the Shetland Islands, in the color Shetland breeders call “Fawn.”
This top incorporates both the shorter finer undercoat fibers and the longer, stronger fibers typical of the outer coat. It rates a 3 on our prickle-factor scale.
This top is easy to spin into crisp, sturdy yarns suitable for a variety of uses, though you probably won't find them next-to-skin soft. It’s happy spun worsted with a short forward draw, or semi-woolen with twist in the drafting zone.