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Fine Fleece Shetland Sheep
Fine Fleece Shetland Sheep
Fine Fleece Shetland Sheep

Review of a Traditional 1927® Wool Sample - AM from New York

"Just wanted to say thank you for your fine wool sample. I can't wait to take it to my next spinning meeting, and spread the word. I'm 73 and remember Shetland as being soft....but not around here. You could scrub a pot with them. I always wondered  why they would make fine lace shawls. Now I know they were using a soft standard from the past. I have some wonderful sheep that are BFL x Finn for 15 years. They are getting old and so am I, but if I was younger I would get some fine wooled never know." 

Official Branding for FFSSA Products

In the recent past, the Shetland Islands were successful in acquiring a trademark, "Real

Shetland," for their wool and wool products. The purpose of this trademark is to promote,

protect, and insure the quality of their wool and wool products for the public. It also

insures the buyer that they are purchasing 100% Shetland wool raised on the islands

from purebred Shetland sheep and not a generic combination of wools.

Following that example, the Fine Fleece Shetland Sheep Association is pleased to

announce that a similar assurance in breed stock, fleece, and wool products has

been awarded in the form of a US/International Collective Mark (CM) known as

"Traditional 1927®." The use of this CM reflects and assures the quality of these items for the consumer.

When this CM is present, shepherds, spinners, knitters, and all other fiber artists can be confident that they are working with pure, fine Shetland wool. Traditional 1927® sheep and wool products are produced by a limited number of shepherds who are dedicated to bringing the consumer the finest Shetland wool available. This commitment includes annual fleece testing to provide hard data to support the CM. Look for the Traditional 1927® CM and know you have quality tested and assured products.


FFSSA's Online Sheep & Member Database is Ready for Use! 

FFSSA Online offers the ability to

- renew your membership

- transfer animals in or out

- obtain duplicate certificates

- make corrections to existing             certificates

- change the status of an animal

- view, sort and print your list of        animals

- view and print individual animal     details and history

- view information on other FFSSA    registered animals

- make your payments online using    PayPal


To access the Registry, click on the link above. First time users should click on the page's sign-up link and fill-out the form. GLM will give you access to the site.

From the beginning the FFSSA goal has been to preserve and promote 1927 Standard, Appendix A Shetland sheep and educate the end user about the “finer” points of Traditional 1927® wool. 


We implemented the mentoring system and assigned area representatives to regions throughout the US, created a member’s handbook, researched micron data from Shetland sheep all over the UK, Shetland and US to develop a grading chart, became a 501c3 non-profit group, acquired and registered the Trademark “Traditional 1927®” which allows senior members to use this on wool products that adhere to our grading chart criteria.  We even managed to sponsor our very own FFSSA sponsored Shetland show in Estes Park and Ames, Iowa.  The next big step was to find a way to fund our educational efforts and so a Performance Registry was created and is now online with a wealth of information for our members to access.  Since our inception we’ve been committed to gathering data to better serve our members and efforts to maintain a database is being continually fine-tuned.  


Our group has completed all the “big” stuff that lays the ground work for FFSSA and none of that would be possible without the hard work and combined knowledge of our members.  Our focus for the future is marketing and there has been a lot of work done in that area on social media and in a few publications so far this year. 


It’s been such a pleasure to be a part of the FFSSA journey, from 2011 to present day, we’ve seen a whirlwind of progress due to the passion and dedication of our loyal members.   It’s my distinct pleasure to serve as your President for 2019 and I’m grateful for the opportunity to help in any way I am able.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions or just to chat.  

Respectfully submitted,

Kelly K. Bartels, FFSSA President

Shetland Sheep are a heritage breed dating back a thousand years or more and are related to Soay sheep. They have primitive characteristics such as a naturally short fluke shaped tail, wool that 'roos' or sheds in the springtime, small size, and fine bone. They are famous first and foremost for their fine, soft, naturally colored wool that is very lightweight and warm. This wool was one of the two pillars of the Shetland Island economy for centuries.

Shetlands, the 'kindly' (soft) wooled native breed of sheep, were preserved because the Shetland wool industry was facing extinction with the the infiltration of coarse long wooled big sheep on the island. Steps were taken, such as the creation of the 1927 breed standard and paid ram incentives, to ensure the existence of this rare native breed and the continued existence of the woolen industry that employed so many of the women of Shetland.

Garments made from breed standard 'kindly' Shetland wool can be next-to-the-skin soft scarves to warm, soft outerwear sweaters. It is a fine wool with crimp (called 'wave' by the writers of the standard) and is normally used for knitted garments with good memory such as stockings/socks, hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, shawls, under clothing, and the famous Shetland sweaters. It is a 'longish' wool, around 3-6", depending on crimp. It is sometimes good for felting and some fleeces are very silky. As it is a heritage breed, there is quite a bit of diverseness found within the breed, especially in the colors and patterns that run the gamut of browns, blacks, greys, and white as well as spots and patterns. All in all, it is one of the premier handspinning fleeces to be found.

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