The World Congress Begins….

Wow. I am in information overload after a day with approximately 17 presentations covering color genetics, marketing, breeds I have never heard of, breeds I knew about but learned even more!

I apologize in advance for some of these photos as the only way I could get you some of these today was to take directly from the presentation screen under less than ideal conditions (like heads in the way!) But I think they will serve to make my points and share some of what I learned with you.

I will intersperse photos with some random fun facts. (You will know this by the label random fun fact!)

Before the congress began, we received some gifts from the organizers. A beautiful felt tote bag


We also received a kniting kit gift from the Australian contingent. Everyone’s was different. I received a gorgeous skein of hand-dyed, hand spun Corriedale wool (“Carnival”) from Colleen Arnold. This was special to me as I had met Colleen on my trip to Australia. We also got knitting needles and a pattern. More on that later.


Random fun fact: France has 7.5 million head of sheep and a compulsory identification program for each sheep involving manual and electronic tags.

We learned about the color genetics of many breeds. One was of the Ouessant Sheep, which began on the island they were named after.


Another discussion of color genetics involved a familiar looking breed!


Random fun fact: white sheep are typically bigger than colored sheep.

A presenter on Shetland Sheep made an important point:


The Shetland contingent brought some beautiful products for us to see.


Two different presentations on German Sheep introduced to breeds I had never heard of. The mountain sheep were shown to us in a video. This still shot does not give you the true flavor of the sounds of their bells ringing or the steepness, remoteness and wildness of their environment.


This Pomperanium ram from Germany helped them make the point that, for this breed, kemp in the fleece is important for this breed to retain its traditional color.


Here is the other German breed, the east Prussian Skudden, demonstrated by these ewe lambs. Aren’t they gorgoeus?


Robin (who tries to educate us about wool fiber structure), this slide is for you!


Random fun fact: In Norway, watching where the sheep are keeping themselves is a better forecaster of weather than the weather reports!

You will recognize a couple of my favorite sheep breeds that I do not own (yet!)



And, speaking of Herdwicks, look at this idea I might copy to help teach people about breeds and the characteristics of their wool: a knitted sample with a wool staple attached!


Last breed I will share with you: the Soay Sheep. There was much to learn about this interesting breed. They originate on Soay Island, part of the island group of St. Kilda, west of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, and are no longer domesticated in that area but feral. Our presenter, June Hall, said with the sheep of this breed that she has had only twice did they get out and it was her fault as they “were only doing what comes naturally – avoiding human contact.”

Here is a Soay ewe and lambs.


June has made a beautiful jacket from Soay fleece, a fleece that cannot be carded as it sticks in the carder and can’t be combed as it is too short so has to be spun lock by lock.


Of course, I HAD to get some Soay yarn to come home with me!


Remember the Australian yarn? I decided to start my scarf and see if I can finish it before getting home (it helped that jet lag kept me up a couple hours in the middle of last night!)


A couple final thoughts from today:


And, a speaker commented as an aside when looking at his slides during his presentation:

“I don’t have a good photo of a white sheep because why would you want to take a picture of a white sheep?!” That delivers the spirit of this conference, in a joking way ( with my apologies to any of my friends with white sheep!)

More tomorrow I am sure……..!


Published in: on May 19, 2014 at 9:19 pm  Comments (9)  

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m looking forward to meeting your Hebrideans and Herdwicks sometime in the future 🙂

  2. Sorry not to be there, but happy to get all this interesting info!

    • Thanks, Linda. It’s a lot to take in but we are enjoying trying!

  3. Jackie, thank you so much! I love the depth and excitement of this Congress and all the absolutely gorgeous sheep, wool, and yarn you are delivering in your blog. It’s such a pleasure to see the world through its sheep and shepherds (rather than through it’s politicians and disasters, for example). Looking forward to day 2! —Mary, Jimmy the dog’s human Nana

    • Mary – great to hear from you! Today will be similar to yesterday, with more new information being presented. I am especially looking forward to a talk on making felt and a couple on various aspects of wool marketing. People are doing so much in the wool world. It is so great to get exposed to new ideas. Tell Jimmy we have seen a lot of dogs in Paris. He would like it here!

  4. I sure hope that when you get back you will enlighten us with all you learn.

    • Hopefully, between the two of us, we’ll remember some of this stuff!

  5. It’s fascinating, all the information you are getting. Thanks so much for sharing a bit with us.

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