Meet Shrek, he is a Merino Sheep and one of New Zealand’s most beloved icons. He was found wandering the wilderness on his own so debilitated by his overgrown coat because his fleece hadn’t been sheared in 6 years! As the story goes, he escaped his flock in search of freedom or perhaps to satisfy his wanderlust and evaded shearers by hiding in caves in the wild mountains of Otago, South Island. When he was finally caught in 2004, he became a national hero. They removed 60 pounds of fleece from Shrek when he was finally shorn at Golden Gate Lodge in Cromwell by Peter Casserly, a former world blade shearing champion.
Just how much yarn can come from 60 pounds of fleece? Well there are about 453 grams in each pound, and an average ball of yarn is about 50 grams, making about 544 balls of yarn from Shrek alone! I heard this story at a friend’s rooftop BBQ where there was a Kiwi visiting from New Zealand! I mentioned that I was going to the Sheep & Wool Family Festival. It turns out Shrek had just passed away earlier this year :( But he was celebrated in many ways. He spent his days traveling around as an advocate for the virtues of Merino Wool, a very sustainable resource, as well as the “poster-sheep” for Cure Kids charity helping them raise $170k. Icebreaker, a New Zealand outdoor apparel maker (kind of like our Patagonia), famously made him a merino wool sweater to wear! Oh the irony.
Eco-Friendy – Sustainability – Renewability
Why is Shrek on this blog? Did you know that sheep need to be shorn in order to maintain a healthy life? I did not! And I learned about it through Shrek the Sheep! I knew Merino Wool was eco-friendly but did not know why until now. I always knew wool came from sheep (in general), a natural resource, and when you think yarn you think wool! But I did not know that it was a material that makes use of something that is a necessary process when caring for sheep.
This makes Merino Wool an entirely renewable resource, a resource that is not depleted when harvesting. Which in turn makes it very sustainable and a bonus is animals do not have to be killed or harmed during harvest. All this adds up to merino wool being very ECO-FRIENDLY! Something I first discovered while making this Papercut Patterns Circle Top. The instruction booklet it came with mentioned that Merino Wool was a very sustainable material. It sparked a whole search into sustainable fibers!
Shrek gets shorn http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/archive-video-shrek-sheep-gets-shorn-9-41-4207609
Other famous sheep http://www.sheep101.info/famoussheep.html
UDPATE: I was talking to the Mad Scientist about this sheep wool thing. And he noted that although it is sustainable, sheep (domesticated) are bred to grow lots of fleece which is why they do require shearing. This may or may not color the notion that Merino Wool is Eco-Friendly depending on how you look at it. If it’s humane to breed, keep, and then harvest and process this wool, and then ultimately returned gracefully back to the earth, then this material is earth-friendly. However, the ethical implications may not make it so savory. Depends on how you look at it and as always determining if something is eco-friendly is never so black and white.