Blog Post #5: Primal Wool
Something about seeing a picture of an Icelandic Sheep, windswept in full coat standing on the rocky shores makes me sink into my seat and just stare in awe at the raw beauty of this primitive breed. Know the feeling?
When we began our farm back in 2012, we decided that Icelandics were the breed for us hands down! We had pastures to clear and I wanted this exact picturesque rawness in my life on a daily basis. I needed that deep connection in knowing that our planet has not always looked like it does today with all its luxuries. That we are all here today because our ancestors survived. Primal instinct.
I was that kid. When I was told I couldn’t do something, I would do it in spite and I’m not so sure I will ever grow out of this.
I recall the day we were skidding logs out of our woodlot with our 5-speed, front wheel drive Saturn to build our 3-sided barn, (the only means of transportation we owned at the time). There was a dampness in the air and we were determined to have our first Icelandic ewes settled in by winter. We erected our barn with some very basic carpentry/ joining skills, hand tools, a chainsaw, reclaimed metal roofing and sheer determination. This was the perfect storm for fostering my ancestral awakening and living into a life that values hardiness, intuition and grit.
Icelandic Sheep are considered a heritage breed that has retained its primitive fleece characteristic.
The long outer coat is typically coarse, and wavy with little crimp or elasticity and aids in repelling the elements. This wool is strong enough for creating durable rugs, rope, and felts amazingly. The softer undercoat helps keep the sheep warm and provides us with a medium fiber for spinning into yarns for knitting into wearable garments. The color variation in primitive wool genetics is the most intriguing, retaining a vast natural color range that offers such diversity withing a single flock. Though I no longer raise Icelandics, we still love them immensely and I keep my local Icelandic wool producers close at hand!
As we move further into our breed study Sheep on a Whirl: A Spinners Breed Study 2020, I am so excited to be exploring the Primitive Breeds for the month of February! Some of the breeds we will be exploring include:
If you are interested in learning more about variations in breeds when it comes to spinning (and we also do so much more!), Click the link below to join us! https://www.facebook.com/groups/675653622968446/
Some of the above listed breeds are also on the Shave em' to Save em' initiative through the Livestock Conservancy aiming to bring back rare and endangered sheep breeds.
Check out the Passport program here:
2nd & 3rd images: Sara Kingsbury, Frosthorn Hollow Farm
Sara and Kris Kingsbury combine passion and skill in living out their soul-fueled vision founded in intention and creative processes using home-grown fiber and wood craft on their 18 acre sheep farm in rural Vermont. We're so happy you are here growing, learning and living the dream with us! Subscribe on our homepage and join our email newsletter to receive the latest updates from the hollow!