Maldon Made Shawl

July 9, 2014

I have been a bit of a list person, a should do kind of woman. So I rather surprised myself with this spontaneous treat of a project…a shawl just for me, knit for the sheer pleasure of it, a perfect holiday knitting experience.  I cast on as soon as we unpacked and knitted into every stitch all the delightful moments of our winter holiday in Maldon.

IMG_3150It all started with the yarn, as all satisfying knitting projects do. After my moaning about the lack of locally grown and spun, breed specific yarns, I recently stumbled across Granite Haven, a small fibre farm in the Strathbogie Ranges of Victoria. Cheryl Crosbie raises llamas and Gotland sheep, a rare breed sheep in Australia.  She sells fleece, fibre and yarns from her animals in a broad range of natural colours. Cheryl is just lovely to deal with, sending samples and photographs before purchase and the yarn arrived swiftly, in perfect time for our holiday.

According to the Fleece and Fibre Sourcebook, Gotland sheep are a twentieth century Swedish breed. It resembles fine mohair or an English luster long wool.  The Stansborough Greys of New Zealand are a strain of Gotland. Their fibre was used to weave the elven cloaks in the Lord of the Rings movie.  The Sourcebook suggests that Gotland fibre makes an especially lustrous fine yarn if spun worsted, which I now really, really want to do!

The yarn is a loose, mill spun three ply, in a slightly uneven DK weight. It is a compelling, pleasurable yarn to knit with.  Occasionally, you might find a little vegetative matter but it is easy to remove and I reckon it is a poignant reminder of the shortness of the distance this yarn has travelled from paddock to needles.  It has drape and lustre and over-dyes beautiful as Cheryl’s samples showed.

IMG_3391I had been longing to knit up another Evelyn Clark Shetland Triangle Lace Shawl since making Flame last year as a gift. The pattern was a perfect match for the yarn.  It has knitted up scrumptious and warm, a shawl to snuggle into when the cold winds blow.

IMG_3336The Maldon Shawl was knit straight up from the pattern with no modifications on 5mm needles.  I knit a total of twelve pattern repeats before knitting the border. Details ravelled here. The Gotland yarn didn’t block as strongly as the handspun Polwarth yarn of Flame. It seems to want to return to its pre-blocked state with bounce and undulations. I would like see what cables look like knit up in Gotland.

IMG_3403The colour is a kind of milk chocolate colour or the colour of a dark mushroom pate. The fleece colours change slightly every year.  The browns last year looked more honey coloured. Cheryl’s Gotland sheep also grow silvers and greys, light to darkest black.

IMG_3397If you are intrigued about the Gotland fibre and yarn and you are Victorian, Cheryl has an open day in November to sell fleeces and fibre for spinning. Yarns and fibre are available online from Cheryl and EcoYarns.



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  1. It’s great that you have found some ‘local” wool. It’s knitting up quite lovely. How far is it from you?

  2. Wonderful pairing of yarn and pattern! I quite like the less-blocked appearance in this instance.
    And marvellous discovery of the locally produced fibre; I will certainly be checking out Cheryl’s wares. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Super you found a source! I like the sheen of the Gotland fleece I have and that honey colour looks yummy 🙂 I have read of the Stansborough Greys but didn’t remember they were a strain of Gotland. Maybe there are more fibre farms lurking out there 🙂
    Flame, that was what attracted me to your blog! Great colour.

  4. You have more than made my day,what beautiful work you do.Your honest assessment of the product,the ability to use words that describe my yarn.
    My gotlands and llamas give me a lot of pleasure and I ensure they are looked after to high standard using the concept of healthy sheep naturally having good pasture and free access to trace elements.All this with the aim of producing yarn and rovings where no chemicals have been used in the processing.Thank you as a shepherd of a small flock ,if we are to survive as a truly local product this honest evaluation is all the thanks one needs.

  5. Wow, that is such a beautiful shawl. I love that you tell us about the breeds where the yarn has come from. I’d never thought about the fleeces changing slightly in colour from year to year, how interesting! Enjoy wrapping yourself in your Maldon Shawl and remembering happy holidays and thinking of Gotland sheep.

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