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Shetland Wool
Posted: 04/08/2010

There are lots of different colours of wool there’s moorit, black, white, katmoget, and gulmoget. Shetland wool is very soft so you get soft jumpers but most Shetland wool comes from Australia and it’s a denser fleece.  You can do lots of different things with wool like knit a jumper, scarves, make rugs, blankets, knit hats and felt.

To get wool you need to clip the sheep’s wool. The crofters take their fleeces to the wool brokers in Lerwick that is called Jamieson and Smith.  They weigh the wool; most fleeces are around 1 or 2kg. Shetland sheep are small so they’re not very good for farmers except for their wool which is very soft. But farmers cross Shetland sheep with Suffolks or Cheviots so they can get bigger sheep, which makes denser wool so Shetland sheep are getting rare.

The sheep’s wool is graded: grade 1 is the really good wool and grade 5 is the horrible stuff all the ones in the middle gets better each time. First there were about 30 different wool brokers but now there’s about 3. There’s lots of sheep going rare like the Shetland sheep and Herdwicks because people don’t breed the Shetland sheep with one another just the same with the Herdwicks.  People in Yorkshire use the course wool to make carpets so that all the fleeces can be used and the crofter can get a better price from the wool broker. 

You can use wool for lots of different types of things like smucks. You need to felt the wool for that. Jamieson and Smith send the wool to be washed and then spun then it’s ready to knit. You can use wool for blankets, teddies, socks, hats, scarves, jumpers and gloves. You can use lots of things to help you knit like a knitting belt, gloves boards and jumper boards. You can make a pin cushion out of wool to hold your pins. To get people to buy the wool the shop puts a pattern, the right amount of wool and needles in a pack.  They have started to make carpets from Shetland wool. They’re going to make rugs and runners in Jamieson and Smiths to use up all the wool from the fleeces so they use more of the fleece wool so they aren’t wasteful and it is all useful.  They and the farmers will get more profit. 

James P6