In Icelandic we call it mórautt or moorit. Like in all the other colours we have many shades of brown in the Icelandic sheep’s flock, and we can have brown with white spots on them and what we call botnótt or mouflon. The rarest brown colour is the pure brown, where the sheep has like dark chocolate brown
colour all the way through the fleece, and it doesn’t turn grey over the years. That is a rare colour to have. I have not yet succeeded to breed that colour in my flock, but I sure want to keep on trying. Usually the brown sheep are dark brown closest to the belly (the thel), but have a gorgeous golden shine on the outside, (the tog). But they can also be greyish brown and there we can have endless many shades of different grey and brown. All the way from being light grey on the inside and dark brown on the outside to being darker on the inside and very light on the outside – even almost white. And everything there in between. The greymoorit (see the photo to the right) is considered to be a horrid colour by some people, while others just love it. (I belong to the latter group). The fleece is almost grey when it has been processed into yarn, but the animal itself is very pretty. I have one that is almost purple when she has been shorn. I don’t have a photo of her yet, but I might take one soon. Her name is Grafa, (Digger) which has nothing to do with her colour, she is just in the family of sheep that have name related to bulldozers. 😀 … Grafa’s face is very dark brown – and her belly is greyish brown with the fleece on, but turns to like a purple grey shining ornament when she has been shorn.
The brown wool fades easily in the sun, and that is why most of our brown sheep look like gold in the fall after the summer’s sun. The curly locks of tog turn like amber and it can be soooo pretty. But it has the same element in the yarn,- it fades in the sun. So do not be surprised when your garment turns a little lighter brown if you forget it in front of the South facing window. It is normal. But you can’t fix it. So I recommend that you do not forget it there.
The brown wool is usually also among the softest one in the Icelandic wool. That means also, that we do not get as strong a thread from brown wool as we usually can get from other colours. But it is so nice to work with and you can get it in so many pretty variations in the yarn. Usually I don’t make a lot of brown sock yarn, at least the wool needs to be very special when I decide it will fit for socks. But it is not just because I rarely have brown wool with strong threads, it is also because I don’t get so much of brown wool in general.
But working with different colours of brown can be very satisfying. And having white fleck’s in the brown fleece makes a pretty variation depending on how much of the white and how much of the brown we leave in the fleece while processing it. There are also the different shade between sheep making the yarn different every time. On the photo here to the left, the many different shades of brown can be seen in yarn and they could actually be even more. I love to make yarn that has variations and sometimes I put more white than brown and get the caramel looking colour in the yarn. Oh. That is so pretty. On the far right side is a skein that looks almost grey, but with bare eye it is a caramel colour, which is very pretty and also very popular at the moment.
Once my most popular yarn was one thread of brown and one thread of dark grey plied together. It sold out the minute I got it in the shelves. I have one skein on a photo here to the right, but again, the photo is very different from the bare eye.