Wools of the UK: Shetland

Wools of the UK: Shetland
Lara Pollard-Jones

Shetland is one of the most popular UK wools due to its softness, versatility and natural shades.  It might also have something to do with the characterful, colourful sheep themselves!

Shetlands come in 11 different colours and have 30 different markings and patterns!  Some are more common than others, and we carry the shades that are most readily available; white, moorit (brown), black and grey.

Staple Length

Micron Count
39 – 21mic

Country of Origin
The Shetland Isles, Scotland

This breed is one of the smallest of the UK breeds and thought to be descended from Iron Age short-tailed sheep.  It’s hard to believe but in the 1970’s the Shetland sheep was considered as endangered by the RBST which meant the breed was at risk of becoming extinct.  The majority of the breed was maintained on the Shetland Islands where the wool was used.  As effort was made to bring the breed back it became popular with hand spinners for its fleece as well as with smallholders as the smaller sheep were easier to handle than the larger and heavier breeds.

This fibre is highly versatile, with the finer fleeces being used to make cobweb weight yarns for heritage projects such as Shetland lace shawls.  It is a wonderfully bouncy spinning fibre which takes dye well.  The natural shades make it perfect for Fair Isle projects in undyed colours, too.  It felts well and is often used for both needle and wet felting projects.  Shetland is one of the softest native fibres that the UK has to offer.

Did you know… Shetland wool produced on Shetland is classified as ‘Native Shetland Wool’ which means fibre with this title has protected geographical status.  A bit like the Cornish pasty!  It is the only wool with this designation.

If you fancy trying Shetland we've got you covered!

Related posts