Friday, July 29, 2011

Strange, but true

Earlier this week, Homeschool on the Croft  blogged about getting sheep ready for an upcoming Agricultural Show.   If you are not familiar with this blog, let me explain that she lives on the Island of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland.  She posts photos of spectacular scenery there, and no, they don't live in a tiny stone cottage with a peat fire.  It's a very nice modern home, built to withstand the near-constant strong wind they have. (she doesn't even spin or knit! gasp!)

Her brother-in-law raises Scottish Blackfaced sheep, and they dye them before showing them!  Several of us asked why, but there hasn't been an answer yet.  If we get one, I suspect it will be something like 'because we've always done it that way,' rather than something practical.  

Not willing to wait for an answer, I went looking on the internet:

I never did find out why they do it, but from what I can tell, is has been a long-standing tradition in Scotland to dye the Blackfaced sheep for shows, usually in shades of yellow, gold and orange.   Now parts of England are taking up the practice, because sheep-rustling has become a big problem, and purple, green, red or aqua sheep uh......kind of stand out if you try to pass them off in a flock of white ones.   

One artistic Scot got particularly inspired ....

Tartan Sheep!!!

Strange, but true......  

Until next time, from Wren Cottage ....... 


  1. How cool! The propensity for yellow probably developed from using readily available natural dyestuff, which 98% of the time gives yellow. I'd like to know how they got it to stick... Usually to get natural (or "unnatural") dyes to adhere it requires a fair amount of heat, no grease on the fleece, and a pretreatment with some sort of mordant. This is a very interesting proposition!! Can you let me know if you get an answer? It's the kind of interesting trivia that I can use in a dye class!

  2. LOL! The tartan would be an interesting process I'm sure!

  3. I remember hearing why they dye them orange, but need to go double check to make sure I'm not making it up. The tartan sheep are awesome!