Fiber artist raises rare breed of sheep from Switzerland and creates fiber art with wool

By Lucas Nelson

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CANDLER, North Carolina (WLOS) – Debbie Trantham raises Heirloom sheep on her farm in Candler with the goal of using the wool for fiber arts crafts.

She created her version of a rocking horse, a Rocking Valais, out of Valais wool, and has a number of other items featuring wool from her heirloom sheep. Each breed produces wool of a particular texture.

She raises Cotswold and Teeswater sheep, breeds from England, but it is a breed from Switzerland called the Valais Black Nose that she is particularly interested in. These sheep have only been in the United States since 2018, and Trantham is the only one in the area raising them.

They are particularly coveted because they are docile, behave more like devoted dogs than sheep, and have adorable teddy bear faces.

Debbie and her husband, Randy, are part of a program called the Valais Black Nose Sheep Breeding Program, all through artificial insemination.

The first year of exporting these sheep from Switzerland was in 2018, and in 2019 the Tranthams purchased a purebred ewe that had two lambs on board and were lucky they were both girls.

“There’s still magic coming to the barn in the middle of the night—3 a.m., 12 p.m., whatever; the sheep don’t care what time of day or night they are just ready to deliver,” said Randy Trantham.

“Watching life come to you, helping a lamb take its first breath, is life changing, and even though I gave birth, it’s still something that definitely touches me, my daughter and my family,” said said Debbie.

Debbie works under the name Fiber Dream Santas, but she also has creations of woolen rabbits and sheep.

People who won’t wear fur can give animal creation a second life by donating it to a fiber artist who will turn the skin into something beautiful, rather than putting it in the landfill.

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