July 5, 2009

Sheep to Sweater Sunday n° 9 "Shades of Grey"

As I've already said, grey ouessants are magical : not only are the sheep themselves quite strikingly beautiful, the fleeces are really breathtaking.

Mira and Mysti's breeder very kindly gave me the fleeces of their dames.
And look at these lovely colors :

Mysti's dame : fleece color is shaela, a dark steely grey

Mira's dame : fleece color is emsket, a light dusky bluish-grey

Grey ouessants are not a totally different color. They are the result of color modification. Essentially modified colors dilute or lighten the "real" color of the sheep. Remember how much lighter Praline's fleece was than Nougatine's?

Nougatine's dark chocolate brown fleece
Praline's light fawn brown fleece

Both of these sheep are brown (noisette) ewes : that is their "real" genetic color.

But the color of their fleeces is quite different.

This is what the color modifying gene can do.

Nougatine's fleece is not color modified : her fleece is a true dark brown.

On the other hand, Praline's fleece is showing color modification : it is quite a bit lighter and we could say that the color is diluted.

Note that Nougatine could well be carrying the gene for color modification (genotype), but it is not showing up in her fleece (phenotype).

Looking at these two shades of brown, you can understand why I would be interested in modified colors for a spinner's flock of ouessant sheep.

Color modification can give you a wide range of shades of the base color : in the case of brown, everything from dark chocolate brown to light honey fawn ; and in the case of black, everything from jet black to the lightest grey.

Just look at this sampling of ouessant wool, ranging from jet black through various shades of grey to white :

Ouessant fleece samples :
from black through shades of grey to white

Such an exquisite array of colors, and all thanks to color modification!

So as I continue prepping fiber, these two grey fleeces, along with the grey fleece of Mysti's full brother, a yearling ram, are happily soaking away in a tub of rain water!

And yes, I'm one happy spinner! Who ever said that grey was boring?!

1 comment:

Shell said...

Wow, I just found your blog. I am in awe. Those fleeces are gorgeous as are your sheep. The info in your posts is great. Please keep us updated. Also, do you ever sell any of the fleece?

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