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Deb Robson and Tussah

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for the sheep!

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« One way to wash fleeces, part 3, quick overview and then drying | Main | Remembering Mom »

August 10, 2013


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Laura Fry

How exciting. Best wishes for the research.


So glad you said yes, Deb. We need you to learn more about this fabulous breed. I love me some Shetland, and plan to live vicariously through your adventures. Soldier on!


"Donna's words let me see that even when my reach exceeds my grasp, I may be getting a handle on some things in a way that's helpful."
Yes, Deb. Yes, you certainly do. :)
Best of luck with the research! Now I'm off to read through the first patterns and make plans for a whole winters worth of knitting. :)

Virginia McKenna

I purchased the book yesterday as soon as I read it was available. It is such a great idea and a way to learn more about about this breed. I look forward to knitting the patterns and reading about Shetland sheep.

Kris Paige

Vicariously, like many others, going to enjoy the daylights out of reading the adventures and joys and learnings of your dreams. Waiting not very patiently for the next "installment"....

L.M. Cunningham

Well, now that I have a real job (finally!), as soon as I get paid, I know what I'll be spending some of it on. Grateful as everyone else that you said "yes" Deb, and looking forward to the result.

Wendy Avery

Hi Deb,

Just got the book from the library and I know that I need my very own copy! I is absolutely lovely! I have a question...is there a difference between hill breeds and mountain breeds? So hill sheep come to lower elevations in winter and mountain sheep don't?



Deb Robson

Hi, Wendy:

Hill breeds and mountain breeds are a little complicated, and I need to spend more time with the topic of how theyre defined to be really comfortable answering your question.

The names are used to group or classify British sheep breeds, for the most part, and refer to the terrain in which the sheep normally live. Hill breeds and mountain breeds are hardy and independent and dont require as much direct human care as lowland breeds.

Heres where Im going out on a limb. In my understanding at this point, mountain breeds more often have ruggeder (is that a word {grin}?), more obviously double-coated fleeces and can handle more severe weather (Im thinking of, say, Herdwicks). Hill breeds more often have single-coated fleeces (although there may be some kemp) and can handle a lot of weather, but not the truly dramatic extremes. Now, it gets complicated in one way because I think that some breeds have mountain in their name although through breeding choices they may have evolved to have more characteristics of what Id think of as hill breeds (Black Welsh Mountain, Im looking at you {grin}--developed in the Welsh mountains, but the fleece types have changed through selection). Yet theres still that heritage, and you can feel it in the wool, as well as the name.

When I see Dalesbred and Swaledale described as hill breeds, I think I need to look into the topic more! Id think of them as mountain breeds. And even in Michael Ryders massive Sheep and Man, the index says hill farming, British (see also mountain sheep).

This question is like What is a Down breed?, which it took me quite a while to come to a comfortable personal definition of. Then, in even deeper research, I learned that some other people had historically come to the same conclusion. But I had to go very deep to find that confirmation.

GREAT question. I hope I havent said anything truly out of line, which is the risk. But you get the idea of what factors are involved in finding an answer.


What luck that today I was catching up on your blog! I grabbed Dreaming of Shetland immediately. This is a terrific idea, and I'm glad you agreed to it. Somehow I missed the news about the Field Guide to Fleece, but I've pre-ordered now and look forward to having it in hand. Everything of yours I read casts new light on the subjects of fleece, sheep, history, evolution, human migration and what we take with us (and why), how to do what we love even better, and the perfect pleasure of working with one's intelligence and hands. Keep up teh good work. Best wishes in your research.

Diana Troldahl

I am so glad I have been popping in regularly to check your blog. I nabbed my copy immediately, before I finished reading the first paragraph of your post.
I am pleased and proud to help keep you out there gathering a body of knowledge whose affects will stretch into the future.

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