My Big Gotland Spin 1

November 16, 2017

Before I got sick, before I started my thesis, I bought a big Gotland fleece from the Granite Haven Open Day. These Open Days are wonderful events, the shearing shed is stacked full of beautiful fleeces, the smell of lanolin is intoxicating, the eucalypts shimmer and the place is packed with excited spinners, knitters and felters.

The fleece I got was lovely, dark grey, lustrous and curly. It sat for a few years while I got busy and then, very not busy.

But when we moved to Ballarat, it was the first thing I got out to spin. I spent days and days, flicking locks and spinning. It was a glorious meditation.

My intention was to spin up enough yarn to make the Abrams’s Bridge Cardigan by Mer Stevens from Pom Pom Quarterly Autumn 2015 which I have had my eye on well, since Autumn 2015! Stevens used Heirloom Romney by Fancy Tiger Crafts for this design.

The yarn is worsted weight yarn with a woolly loft made from long wool Romney sheep known for their lustre. The Gotland seemed a good choice for producing a yarn that would have similar qualities to that used by the designer.

I sampled some different approaches and worked out what I wanted. To get the loft, I flick carded the Gotland locks and spun them from the fold with a short forwards draw letting some twist into the drafting zone. I plied these a little firmer than I usually would as I want this to be a durable cardigan. For geeky details, the singles were spun on an 8:1 whorl and 2 singles plied on the 11.5:1 whorl at a rate of 2 inches per treadle and I have ended up with a yarn around 6 WPI and 6 TPI.

My intention is to dye these skeins to a dark green using natural dyes. So stay tuned.

Granite Haven Open Day is this weekend, just near Euroa. Check out their facebook for details. Go and get some lovely Gotland!

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    1. Hi there Sue, We do share a love of Cheryl’s Gotland don’t we. I washed this as a whole fleece and I won’t ever do that again as parts of it were not properly scoured and made spinning difficult. In the end, I re-scoured sections in lingerie bags using Handy Andy as the scour. Next time, I would section off the fleece by colour or crimp rate and wash by the lock in small batches. This would preserve the lock structure and reduce wastage of a precious fleece.

  1. Oooh…. that yarn is glorious and I’m looking forward to seeing how you dye for green too. So wonderful that you’re able to contemplate a cardigan again!

    1. Thanks Mary, there is so much yarn that the dyeing is already becoming saga-like but that makes for a good story eh! Yes, I am quite itching for an actual garment again. I have been trying to knit a sweater for my partner and the shaping just challenges my brain so much. I need to rip out the back as I got the armhole decreasing rate wrong, it was written very clearly, but somehow it just scrambled in my head. As frustrating as the cognitive issues are, I do find it so curious as to what the brain regards as non essential function, what comes back when and what remains elusive.

      1. I think maintaining curiosity is a great posture in the face of challenges of many kinds. And just replying to own that I make mistakes of this kind all too regularly! Bring on the dyeing saga, I say!

  2. I spun 8ounces of Gotland several years ago, into a sport weight, which I used to knit a shawlette. It’s lovely fleece. I left it the natural silver color (which matches my hair). I envy you your big fleece! What dye will you be using? Be careful, even some environmentally-friendly dyes use copper (which is poisonous) to make green. The last thing you need is to expose yourself to something nasty!

    1. Worry not Sophy! I will use oxalis and indigo completly mordant free. Silver Gotland is beautiful, that must be a very pretty shawl.

  3. Wow!! This is a real challenge, Rebecca. Although I do have a few (cough…. cough) fleeces that I’ve washed awaiting my combing and/or carding, I’ve decided not to process a whole fleece again! I want to spend my time spinning, not processing. I had purchased 2 pounds of lovely gray Gotland roving about 3 years ago. It is lovely, spun up and awaiting some inspiration to come knocking. Perhaps if I dyed it I’d be more apt to do something with it! So many sheep are gray………………… Cheers!!

    1. Dear Elaine, I think over dyeing is a very useful option, it doesn’t need much to shift a gray towards something lovely.

    1. Congratulations Penelope, what an amazing project and achievement. I popped over to see your pics but I’d love to see it in the flesh one day. I am so glad Cheryl saw it, what a thrill for you both.

  4. I bought a small amount of Gotland at the Loch Ness Knitfest in October when visiting family, I’d never even touched Gotland before. I spun a little bit on a drop spindle to try it and I knitted a small Swatch.. it was gorgeous. But everybody thought the halo would itch – I’m not sure, I’d need to try it. There isn’t enough to make much more than a hat really but I felt I should try some for future reference. I’m hoping I won’t leave it too long but life interferes with spinning sometimes! Yours looks exactly like mine.. I can just feel the squishyness when looking at it. ?

    1. Dear Jane, the Gotlands in Australia tend towards fineness because of the land here so I am not sure how your Gotland compares. I have some early Australian Gotland that does give me a little neck itch at times but this lot is much softer. I guess all you can do is try, if it looks like mine, that would be just lovely in a hat. And yes time, time, sometimes there is too much of it and other times just never enough.

  5. Wow, that yarn is really beautiful!
    I never used Gotland. My friend bred Gotland when I started spinning, but she stopped shortly after to concentrate on her Jacob and Spaelsau sheep and alpacas and I never got around to try that wool. Seeing it on your pictures it seems like something to keep in mind for trying someday.

    1. Thanks Khendra, yes, definitely try some Gotland, although with those other breeds available to you, I am not sure I would ever get around to it!

  6. I think it’s amazing, the amount of time you put into spinning this quantity of yarn, and the consistency of the skeins. I’m looking forward to the end product.

    1. Thanks Frith, To be honest, because the yarn is worsted weight, it didn’t take as long as I thought it would.The preparation just about did me in though!

  7. Good job and spinning from the fold, according to an article in PLY, helps to keep the sheen. Lovely wool and that sweater is neat. I like the front bands and their difference in length with the rest of the sweater.

    1. Thanks Susan, Yes, everything I read about Gotland suggests some kind of semi woollen to get some loft in but then there is that lovely sheen to preserve.

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