Notes on Finnsheep Fleece
Finnsheep have a lightweight, single coated fleece. The wool is typically soft and fairly uniform across the body with a medium to long staple length of between 3 and 6 inches. A representative fleece is normally open with a moderate amount of crimp. There can be a range of wool fineness with individual Finnsheep, but the representative spinning count is in the 50's (24-31 micron count) and the American Wool Council ranks Finnsheep at the fine end of the medium wool category. Our specific goal as a breeder is for a soft fleece and we are pleased and excited to see this realized in the individuals in our flock.
Finn wool is prized for handspinning with a distinctive luster and characteristic soft hand. The spun wool produces a medium yarn suitable for outer garments such as sweaters or hats, mittens and socks, etc. Lamb fleeces are often soft enough to create garments meant to be worn next to the skin and items for babies. Finn wool is also particularly suited to felting and can be used with all types of felting techniques such as wet-felting, needle-felting and fulling projects.
Finnsheep do not shed their wool as some breeds do. They require shearing and the fleece length will determine when they are shorn, typically once a year. The shorn fleece averages between 2 and 6 pounds and ram fleeces will often be a little heavier. The wool is less greasy than many breeds so the yield, even with heavy skirting, will produce a nice amount of wool for spinning or other fiber projects.
Finnsheep have a range of fleece colors. White is very common and obviously preferred for projects that will be dyed. Black and degrees of gray or silver are also typical. Brown has been more rare but is increasing in its availability. The pretty fawn color is still somewhat infrequent and highly prized. A piebald, or spotted sheep, is prevalent with Finn sheep as is the "badger" marking. These fleeces are more variegated in color and spin up a nicely heathered yarn. Most all the colors are represented in the Hyer Wools flock. We have white, black, brown, a very dark silvered brown and a variegated gray "badger" that is a little hard to describe. We love the different colors represented by the sheep in our flock.
Obviously, each Finnsheep fleece is unique to the animal that bears it. It may even be unique to the year in which it is grown. Genetics will play the biggest role, but weather, diet, and even unknown factors, may cause an individual sheep to have a variable fleece from year to year. Our job is to even out those factors so that the genetics can shine through.
Finnsheep are a hardy breed, but sometimes we have a disappointment. This year our beloved Bella had a difficult birth in the middle of an unusually cold, spring rainstorm. Thankfully, Kerry had sheared her lovely fleece before the projected lambing, but Bella has developed a severe break, or a thin spot, in the fibers of her new fleece, probably from this health event. So Kerry will shear her again so that the wool can grow and be strong, but we will lose both length and weight for Bella's fleece this coming year. Thankfully, she is well and happy again.
Kerry is here shearing a beautiful lamb fleece from our yearling ewe Cameo (out of Bella and Westfarthing Farm's Lanni.)