Shetland and Navajo-Churro sheep: wool and yarn with personality.
The Navajo-Churro breed is one of the oldest domesticated breeds in North America, brought by the Spanish and nurtured by the Navajo People from as far back as the 15th century. Prized for meat, milk, and wool, the Navajo name for these sheep is translated as "that by which we live," or "sheep is life."
By 1930, there were over half a million Navajo-Churro sheep in the United States, mostly in the Southwest. By 1977, these numbers had dwindled to 500, thanks to a US Government attempt to downsize this beautiful breed. Since then, under the protection of the American Lifestock Breeds Conservancy, their numbers have increased sufficiently to bring them from "threatened" status to "recovering."
Navajo-Churros come in a wide range of colors. Their outer wool is long, strong, coarse, and durable, usually of a lighter color than the inner wool, which is soft and warm. Though Navajo-Churro wool is famed for use in Navajo rugs, it is also well-suited for hand-spinning, knitting, crocheting, and felting.
Shetland Sheep are hardy and primitive, meaning they still have the natural ability to forage well, resist parasites, lamb independently, and dotingly care for their lambs. Sheep bred for one particular quality, like fine white wool, often lose some of these natural survival traits. Shetlands come in a wide range of colors. Their wool is fine and soft, a delight to hand-spinners.