Jeane deCoster learned to hand-spin yarn in the 90's and one of the first fleeces she ever bought and prepared herself was a fleece from a Shetland sheep. She bought it at the county fair the sheep was cute, the fleece was soft and not overly greasy . . . . but it was kinda wierd! It seemed to have these extra "hairy bits" that none of my friends knew what to do with.
It wasn't until much later that Jeane learned that these sheep were a primitive breed. They weren't anything like the modern, more commercial style sheep that had been bred for soft, white, consistent fleece suitable for the modern age and it's voracious machinery. These were sheep that still grow two coats of fleece at the same time -- one soft downy undercoat and one a bit longer and a bit coarser for added protection from the elements. This was the beginning of an ongoing love affair!
CORMO: Any collection of breed-specific yarns needs a soft white yarn that will appeal to knitters far and wide and Cormo is one of the best representatives of this class of yarn. It is a lustrous, long-staple, soft (fine micron), resilient (springy) wool that can be worn against your skin and feel wonderful. And, when spun with the right amount of twist, absolutely resistent to creating annoying pills. Elemental Affects Cormo is raised primarily in the West on multi-generational family ranches.
SHETLAND: It has been no small feet to produce this yarn, even on a small commercial scale. As a hand-spinner, Jeane deCoster has the choice of separating the different types of fleece produced by a single Shetland sheep. But, it isn't economically possible to do so when spinning several hundred pounds of fleece. So, the yarn had to be spun with both the really soft undercoat and the hairy overcoat together. Another obstacle is the fact that commercial spinning equipment is not set up to spin what is often a 6" - 9" long staple. Through trial and error (and a very cooperative spinning mill) she found that with a small adjustment to the wool card, the wool could be blended together and spun as a woolen yarn. Because of the high quality of the fleece used (unusually soft undercoats with low micron hair coat), Elemental Affects is able to produce a wonderfully soft, pure Shetland yarn from our own North American Shetland Sheep.
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