SAVE THE BLACK SHEEP
VARP & VEFT produce natural products from fine hand sorted Grey Trønder sheep wool. The breed goes back to the Middel Ages as the old local sheep was crossed with Merino brought by monks of the Tautra monastery. Grey Trønder sheep is known for having Norway's finest wool fibre.
Grey Trønder Sheep lamb from the Øfsti Søndre Farm. Photo: Kristin Bodsberg
Not all wool is created equal
Norwegian sheep graze in the mountains all summer. The cool climate provides poor living conditions for bacteria, which means that the wool does not have to be treated with strong chemicals. Norwegian wool is certified by the official Nordic ecolabel the Swan.
In Norway there are set up 10 collection stations, where farmers can deliver the wool from their sheep. In this way around 4000 tons of wool is collected directly from producers each year. The modern Norwegian White Sheep, which is held mainly for its meat, accounts for around 70% of the total sheep number. While white crossbred wool is more uniform and thus more reasonable to process, wool from our old breeds can be both longer, stronger and softer. As the wool is sorted and classified, no distinction is normally made from the different breeds and all pigmented wool is put in one batch. In order to ensure traceability and the quality desired, we source and buy raw wool that has been carefully selected and classified according to both breed, quality and colour shade. Our sourcing strategy deals with all aspects from wool fibre selection, to logistics and processing capabilities.
Roughly 40-50% of the weight of the raw wool is comprised of lanolin and dirt (our sheep graze on uncultivated areas!) that is washed off
Old Norwegian sheep breeds
Old Norwegian sheep is perfectly suited to the Norwegian climate and surroundings. They thrive on scarce resources, have a great herding instinct and are rarely caught by predators. While modern "Norwegian White Sheep" is held mainly for its meat and larger size, wool quality was the main target for traditional breeds.
Finest Norwegian wool fibre
Grey Trønder Sheep is known for having the finest wool fibre of all Norwegian breeds of sheep. Each fleece consists of numerous shades of grey, which makes the sorting of the wool a labour intensive task. In turn it also provides for the most beautiful natural wool yarn.
The breed goes back to the Middel Ages, as the local traditional sheep was crossed with Merino brought to the Trondheim area by monks of the Tautra monastery. The result was a sheep with soft wool in different shades of grey. While pigmented wool was sought-after in the postwar period, it later lost ground to white wool of more uniform character. In the early 90's Grey Trønder Sheep was close to extinction, and it is still considered an endangered breed. The popularity however is on the rise with a current breeding stock of around 600-800 sheep.
Pigmented Grey Trønder Sheep wool is a product of nature. A sheep shearing will never give the exact same result as the previous, or the next.
Wool is a renewable and sustainable resource. It is a natural textile fiber with many advantages. It insulates, regulates temperature and provides warmth even when wet. It's antibacterial and odor neutralizing. Used for home decor and upholstry it is delicate and durable, and repels water and dirt. The wool fibre is naturally flame retardant without the use of chemicals and a safe choice for residential and commercial interiors.