Washing sheep

Barbro’s Threads started up a discussion concerning sheep, wool and sea water which also mentioned washing sheep. Washing sheep has been an old method used in at least North Europe but also in Canada and USA.  In most countries this traditiona stopped a long time ago but this was not the case in Estonia. This method was used in small scale still after the II World War. Sheep used to be washed in both brackish Baltic Sea water as well as in streams, rivers and lakes.

Michelson, Annika: Collection of sheep wasing photos, drawings and paintings (ppt)

Video: Sheep being washed in the Neatherlands

There is also old film material from Estonia when sheep is being washed but it is not online available.

Estonian native sheep wool

Barbro’s threds have made some spinning tirals with Estonian native sheep wool and you can read about it in her blog Barbro’s Threads.

When we started to look after this old type of sheep in 2002 we did not know what will be found. Today, after I have been spinning also other North European Short-Tail Sheep breed’s wool, I can say that estonian native sheep is very diverse in it’s different types of wool. At Ruhnu you will find a type that is feeling more like cotton in your hands than wool! Then at Kihnu islands some sheep have wool with a large amount of cover hair and soft under wool, whereas some have a staple of only underwool – but it is not soft as usually in this type but coarse! And a wide range of wool types which staples can be divided into three different lengths. (over hair, middle wool, soft under wool), that all reflects both local climatic conditions as well as that wool has been traditionally used for so many different purposes. Tallinn was and is a Hansa town – known for its trade.

Our North European Short-Tailed sheep family IS fantastic in its large diversity of different types of wool! The Estonian natvie sheep fleece shows the wide range of different handicraft that here traditionally has been made, and still is done. It is a pitty that there are so few left of this sheep and that it not has been recognized still as a breed. Also very few Estonian handcrafters themselves know what a treasure they have and even less can make use of it! Estonians themselves pay less attention to the origin of the wool than to patterns and techniques used. We hope to see a change in this as Tallinn University handicraft department now shows also interest in the wool types and origin of the wool. Estonian native sheep products and wool types are shown at the largest Estonian handicraft market Mardilaat market 7-10.11.2013 in Saku suurhall in Tallinn. Welcome to visit our stand!

Homepage: Estonian native sheep and photos from our stand at Mardilaat market in former years.