Shetland Roving

Shetland Roving – pin drafted roving spun from our heritage flock of Shetland Sheep.
100 grams per package

...right from the farm

Meaford Wool Shetland Sheep on pasture

Shetland Roving begins…

… on the pasture! It is literally harvesting the sun. The sun creates the chlorophyll which give the energy to the grass. The sheep, in turn, harvest the grass and convert part of that energy to growing their fleece.

Pictured here are a few of my Heritage flock of Shetlands enjoying the fresh spring pastures. All a purebred Shetland except the dark brown one in the back, with a black face and a bit of grass in her mouth – that’s Beaulagh, and she is half Shetland and half Cormo.

This flock of Shetlands traces back to the original genetic line imported into Canada. The sire of all these ewes, Chas, actually hails directly from that original Canadian farm, which is now run by the founder’s daughter.

Pictured here is Don Metheral a championship shearer with many world competitive shearing awards and accolades to his credit.

Don first sheared my sheep when he was a teenager, just starting out. He is my primary shearer and I always look forward to working with him.

He handles the sheep with care, and the skill he has translates into few or zero second cuts. A second cut is when the shearer runs his shears over a spot that he already sheared, resulting in short fibres mixed in with the rest of the fleece. Short fibres spun into yarn will lack strength of longer fibres as there would be less overlap of those fibres. Sheep farms that focus on wool production consider it a premium to have a shearer like Don who knows that shearing isn’t just getting the coat off the sheep.

Don Metheral shearing


Skirting fleece for Shetland Roving

On shearing day the fleece from each sheep is ‘thrown’ on the skirting table. I ‘skirt’ the fleece (pick off the poopy parts, second cuts, bits of hay) while the shearer shears the next sheep. I put each fleece in its own bag where it stays until I do a second, more thorough skirting when the busyness of shearing day is past.

It is important to skirt the fleeces properly. The equipment at the mill can only do so much and if I send a fleece with lots of hay in it, I will get back yarn with lots of hay in it – and that means sitting with a pair of tweezers to pick out the bits.

Another reason to skirt the fleeces thoroughly is the increasing cost of shipping them to the mill. It would be a shame to pay postage on weight that will be sorted of and thrown in the garbage by the mill.

When I send the skirted fleeces to the mill they are washed (3-4 times), rinsed (2 – 3 times) carded, and then either pin drafted into Shetland roving, or spun into singles (thin strands) and plied into yarn.

The mill I use is environmentally conscious and uses only mild detergents to wash the wool. Larger commercial mills are more inclined to use a chemical process called carbonising to clean the wool – it literally dissolves dirt, grease, and bits of vegetation.

When I have wool spun and plied into yarn at the mill I wash it, either before or after knitting, in a lingerie bag in the washing machine on gentle or wool cycle, low agitation, with warm/warm setting for wash and rinse. I use either a wool wash, or if none on hand I’ll use a pH neutral dish soap like Dawn.

Shetland Roving group colours