Curls fall under the blade of the shearer, leaving behind a lustrous sheen on the ewe. Her first time shearing a Gotland sheep, the shearer comments on the slick black legs and lack of belly wool. Charcoal gray wool lays in a thick blanket on the barn floor as the ewe stands. Distinct curls twist and dangle as I gather the warm fleece in my arms.
Gotland breeders tend to shear their sheep twice a year, once in the late fall and then again in spring. The fleece grows 10-12 inches within a years time allowing for two shearings. The fleece is long, fine, and lustrous. Soft to the touch, the smooth silky curls feel clean, having little lanolin.
|Dark Charcoal Gray Gotland Fleece|
Snow fell overnight making the air crisp. The sun tries to peek from behind clouds to watch me as I skirt the black fleece. Beneath the outer layer of dark curls, I shake the deep charcoal gray wool to release any short cuts from the shearing. The wool makes a snapping sound as I test it for strength. I think about sending the fleece to the mill and getting our first Gotland wool yarn from our own sheep.
Sue Blacker, of The Natural Fibre Company in England, has perfected taking these lovely curls and turning them into yarn. She spins her Gotland fleece into a 4 ply knitting yarn. Upon asking why she prefers a 4 ply for the Gotland, she said that she finds that due to the silky nature of the fiber, it pulls out of a 2 ply yarn causing pilling. Sue separates her fleeces according to color in order to offer Gotland yarn from the lightest silver to the darkest charcoal gray.
I must wait patiently until our spring shearing before sending our wool to be spun. In the meantime, I have ordered Gotland yarn from Sue so that I can knit a test swatch to determine how I would like our wool spun. I have worked with Stonehedge Fiber Mill for years, and feel confident that Deb will spin lovely Gotland yarn for us.
|Outer Layer of Curls
Follow our Gotland adventure: Settling In with Gotlands