Monday, 18 February 2013

The Skuddlebutt on Skudde

Rare breed. Endangered.

About the Skudde Sheep: The Skudde is a Nordic, short-tailed heather sheep belonging to the family of the mischwolligen or heath sheep. Its original homeland was East Prussia and the Baltic States. Evidence suggests it was in existence during the Iron Age and they are possibly direct descendants of the Stone Age sheep. Known as the 'sheep of the Vikings’, they accompanied the Vikings on their travels. The Skudde is culturally important and is also genetically of immense value as they are one of the purest breeds still in existence.

Uses: The wool mixture typical of this breed consists of fine wool fibers, dispersed with short hairs and course cover hair. Traditionally, Skudde would have shed their fleece naturally but this trait has been bred out. The wool was used for rugs and blankets in attractive natural colours. The guard hair is evenly distributed with the wool which makes it appropriate for felting as well as water repelling properties. Shepherds of these flocks always wore hooded cloaks made from Skudde felt. A strong rope can be produced by spinning and plying the wool. Pelts were used for rugs and leather. Males have the snail shaped horns which were used, along with bone for buttons and toggles. The colors are white, brown, black, and gray. White Skuddes have small pigment spots on the head. Although the meat is held to be a delicacy in circles of connoisseurs, for economic reasons (like slow growth rate) they are not kept for their meat. They are suited for pasturing more barren areas where they are indiscriminate in their browsing and foraging habits (like thistles, weeds and other scrub) and are ideal for landscape conservation.

My spinning Experience. Another rare and endangered breed that I have been most fortunate to work with.  Coming to me washed and carded, I didn’t have the opportunity to work with the raw fleece. I did get to experience the fine wool and longer cover hairs which I spun together giving an overall medium coarse spun yarn. Absolutely not next-to-skin-soft for this Princess but would make fine outerwear.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Steinschaf Sheep

Rare Breed

About the Steinschaf Sheep: The Steinschaf is a direct descendent of the now extinct Zaupelschaf or Neolithic Torfschaf making it one of the original breeds of the European Alps.  In the beginning of the 20th century the Steinschaf still roamed the meadows of Bavaria, Germany, especially the areas around Berchtesgaden, Traunstein, and Rosenheim. In Austria, its range was mainly in the Salzburg area.

The original Steinschaf was a dual-coated, small, and wiry high mountain sheep, characteristics making it ideal for the high mountains in the Eastern Alpine regions. The modern Steinschaf is now a robust, small to medium-sized sheep with dual coated fleece with pithy, long coarse hair and fine wavy and short under coat

 With every wool colour from white to black to browns,as well as brindled. They have small heads, free of wool, straight noses and short, pointed ears stuck out sideways. The tail is long and thin. 


According to the Society for the Conservation of old and endangered Livestock Breeds, In 1863 about 208 000 animals existed. Numbers were reduced to 1000 in 1964. Breeders in Germany and Austria collected 30 animals  in 1985 leading to 2004 where they created a programme to market high quality products made of Steinschaf wool. This successfully helped to increase Steinschaf numbers.


My spinning Experience: I was fortunate to have a Steinschaf lamb sample. It was a gorgeous dark, dark shade. A bit neppy, likely through the carding process ,the fibers were short but created a rustic yarn. This Princess recommends spinning a sample of this rare fiber and should you gather enough, it would be an amazing conversation piece(whilst supporting increased Steinschaf numbers) for an outerwear garment…just not next to Princess skin soft.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Tiroler Bergschaf or Tyrolean Mountain Sheep

Staple : my sample approx. 5cm

Micron: unavailable

About Tyrolean Mountain Sheep: date back to ancient Stone Sheep. They are medium to large, pure white without any pigment. They are characterized by long, broad and pendulous (lop) ears. They are found through Austria, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. The Tyrol Mountain originated from Bergamasca, Steinschaf, and Spiegel variety of Carinthian. They are bred primarily for meat .

The wool is quite coarse, thick and oily. The traditional cloth, called Loden was originally woven by peasants living in Loderers in the 16th century . The Sarner Jangger from Valle Sarentino/Sarntal is a tightly-knitted, very warm cardigan and is often worn as part of traditional costume. Typical characteristics are the brightly-coloured seam and antler-horn buttons. Also felted  slippers or Patschen  or Toppar are popular. Fleece from Tiroler Bergschaf /Merino /Jura sheep from the Weiz region provides the outstanding quality to Schladming fabrics and wool products.


My Spinning experience: Of course my spinning experience is limited by my sample. My batt was a bit neppy but after reading more on this fascinating breed, the resulting spun yarn would fit exactly into its current uses. Now whilst my 20g sample will never become one of the amazing garments traditional of the region, this princess would love to slip on a Sarner Jangger and pair of Patschen whilst sitting by the roaring fire of the ski lodge and sip Gl├╝hwein.