I dag har jeg gleden av å presenter neste gjesteblogg skrevet av Ioana fra Moeke Yarns.
Hvis du leser Moeke Yarns blog, får du vite mye spennende om utfordringer med å produsere lokal ull på gamlemåten i Romania, og deres planer for fremtiden. Her har jeg fått en liten historie om den spede starten og om dyrene bak ullen. Vil du høre mer om Ioanas tanker, og bakgrunnen for å arbeide på gamlemåten, vil jeg anbefale å lytte til Woolful sin podcast episode 8.
This is the story from when we started Moeke Yarns, more precisely the part when we started to look for sheep. I knew that Romania has lots of sheep. The estimations that I found were over 9 million sheep! Most of them are from a breed called Turcana that has coarse long hair, way too rough for knitting but great for carpets and such. But we were looking for a breed called Tigaie and for the rare Romanian merino sheep. The Tigaie sheep is a medium-wool breed, with good milk and meat production but they are harder to find – they represent only around 20% of the sheep population in Romania. The Merino sheep is ever harder to find as they represent only around 9% of the sheep in Romania.
And so, here was our strategy to find sheep. I went to Romania in the spring, me and my brother got in the car and we drove to the country side to visit a flock that was recommended to us. Did we know how a Tigaie or Merino look like? No, we had no idea! Did we know the difference between fine and semi-fine wool? Well, I read about it. Crimp? Staple length? Only in theory… But I thought, well, how difficult could it be, right?
We drove to the farm and saw sheep. Did they look good, all fluffy and cuddly like you see in pictures? Nope. They did not have pajamas on, I was sure I saw some thistle heads tangled in their wool. And they looked kind of dirty. Was that normal, I wondered? In the photos of sheep that I saw, they did not really had so much poop clung on their wool. Why do they look like that, I asked. Well, they stay during the winter inside because of the very low temperatures, of course they sleep in their poop sometimes. And the thistle heads? Well, some escaped on a neighbouring land with more of the pesky thistles and they are very good at picking them up. Right. Clear. And the breed? Merino! Really? They don’t really look like merino… No, no, they are merino.
Now, you might think that this was an awful experience and that the shepherd was trying to cheat us. In fact, he was just being honest and had no idea that his sheep might seem so unbecoming. All sheep stay inside during the winter and none wears protective coats – why would they? Wool has no value so there is no point to make an effort to protect it. They do feed on natural pastures, but those pastures are full with various types of vegetation, and some gets in their wool. Their tails are not clipped, nor is the skin around the buttocks removed, but they look rather filthy and unappealing. And they were not merino, they were Tigaie mixed with other fine wool sheep, but the peasants call them that because they find their wool to be soft and they associate softness with merino sheep.
In the end we did not bought the wool from that flock. We wanted, but when someone else happen to be there when the sheep were sheared off, the shepherd sold the wool being afraid that we would not actually respect our promise. And in the end we found a different flock, with the same type of sheep, the same degree of filth and dirt and all the pleasure that followed when we had to clean and wash the fleeces.