Saturday, November 13, 2010

Gottland Mittens-Week Two!

There's nothing like a deadline to help me keep on task!

Had I not mentally commited to posting a weekly progress report on this project, I might well have blown off carding the Gottland fleece today in favor of dyeing some yarn that I'm behind on for the Vermont Yarn Club.

I had actually intended to comb this fleece....since Gottland is a long wool breed and very lustrous and because I want these mittens to wear a long time. I had originally thought I'd spin a true worsted spun yarn to a sport/d.k. gauge. But after combing a couple of handfulls, I decided I needed to rev up my production in order to get all 4 pair of mittens spun and knit by XMAS, so I decided to card the fiber and settle for a semi-worsted yarn.
So today, in between advising some of the weavers that were here working on their chenille scarves, I carded the 3 dyed colors up as you see here. The photos show a first pass with a pile of the locks and then a second pass (I used my motorized Louet), some fiber being combed and the final three batts.
I mentioned last week that I'd get more into the difference in the 2 Gottland fleeces I'm playing with. So I pulled out all my literature....a great article from Spin Off spring 2002, a pamplet from the American Gotland Sheep Society, and this beautiful new book I purchased about European breeds (although it includes Estonian and Russian breeds too!) of sheep called Wools of Europe.

As for the American Gottland I'm working with.....the fleece I'm working with is the result of breeding a Finn ewe with semen imported from Gottland, and then subsequently breeding this offspring with Gottland semen until the offspring is 7/8th Gottland (this is what the person who raised this fleece informed me of at the Maryland Sheep & Wool festival where I purchased the fleece).

I was surprised to learn when reading the pamplet of the American Gottland Sociaty (AGSS) that other "foundation" breeds are allowed (I apparently misunderstood that Finn was the only accepted foundation breed to cross with Gottland semen if one was breeding to be included in the AGSS). The other foundation breeds that are allowed are Shetland, Icelandic, Wensleydale, Cotswold, Lincoln, Border Leceister, Blue Faced Leceister & English Leceister. Anyway, as of 2008, there were less than 100 Gotland Xs in North America

The original Gottland sheep was established by the Vikings on the island off Sweden where my sisters & I are heading in May. The Vikings crossed the native Gute sheep with Karakul and Romanov sheep from Russia to create the Gottland breed. Today, both Gute and Gottland sheep inhabit the island. Both the Gute and the Gottland are hardy and well suited to the island's climate. They are both light grey to black.

I was expecting the fleece to feel coarse since Gottland can range from 35-45 microns, but it really feels soft!

The second fleece I'm working with came to me by way of my sister, who in turn got it from a friend of hers who got it from New Zealand. According to the Spin Off article, the Stansborough Gotland sheep (raised on the east coast of New Zealand) has special characteristics. The family that has been selectively breeding them there has produced a herd of 800+ that are lustrous, strong, long, and have none of the guard hairs typical of the traditional Scandinavian Gotlands.

Having carded the colors and realized how incredibly lustrous and soft these two fleeces are, I can't wait to start spinning!

Next week....I'll have yarn to show and will go about picking patterns from the Swedish Mitten Book I discovered on my shelf!

1 comment:

  1. this is all so interesting, Jen, and I LOVE the colors you are working with ( as always! ) can't wait to see the mittens!