In our ongoing commitment to making it more profitable to raise heritage breeds, The Livestock Conservancy created the Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em Initiative. It’s a program that will recognize fiber artists for using wool from breeds on our Conservation Priority List while connecting shepherds of heritage breeds with customers.
The Livestock Conservancy has long said that the way to save endangered breeds of livestock is to give them a job. In the case of wool sheep, we need to start using their wool again. Because of marketing challenges, some shepherds discard or compost the wool after their annual shearing rather than cleaning it and selling it. In addition to encouraging fiber artists to try using rare wools, the program also educates shepherds about how to prepare their wool for sale and how to reach customers and fiber artists, thereby making it more profitable to raise heritage breeds.
Not only is the wool from different breeds different - vastly different sometimes - but each breed was developed to answer the needs of both the people and the environment. Without diversity we're simply one disaster away from losing an important resource - no matter the species.
I've started with Tunis. I'm hand spinning roving that I purchased from Red Rope Farm. Mostly working it up on a spindle, so may take a while. It's got a lot of bounce and I see this working well for socks - plenty of cushion - or a cuddly wrap! There will be more as I progress.
This breed was developed from the Tunisian Barbary sheep from North Africa. The meat is said to be tasty, though I have yet to try it. The fiber is 3 1/2 to 5", a warm white, is springy and suitable to a lot of projects. The sheep are hardy, have a reddish face and legs, lambs have a tan or reddish fleece that lightens as they age.