Fleece Breeds – Gotland

The Gotland breed of sheep is also called Gotland Pelt.  It was named for the Swedish island of Gotland.  Gotlands are medium sized, friendly, docile, inquisitive, attractive sheep with long, lustrous locks of wool.  The color of Gotland fleece varies from light silver all the way to dark charcoal, with solid black heads and legs.  Gotland lambs have a black birth coat, which becomes gray over their first few months of life.

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Gotland fleece is fine, long, lustrous and dense, with curl and a long staple. The fleece is soft to the touch.  Microns run from 29-34 by 18 months of age while lambs are in the low to mid 20’s.  The Gotland breed is believed to be a cross between the native landrace Gute, bred with Karakuls and Romanovs some time in the 20’s or 30’s.  Gotlands produce a wonderful, high quality fleece that is perfect for handspinners.

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Gotland sheep are found in Great Britain, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and recently have started to be included on farms in the USA.  American Gotlands are not only gray in color, and can also be white or moorit (reddish-brown).  These sheep are relatively low maintenance and can survive well on pasture alone with no grain supplements.

Gotland fibers are both strong and fine, in ringlets and long waves.  This fiber felts very easily and is also very good for spinning.  It can be spun worsted or woolen, and can be spun without carding.  Gotland lab fleece is perfect for long draw spinning, and yields a fine, light, springy yarn.  Gotland is perfect for weaving also.  In felting, Gotland can be used for soft, light felt or strong structures, and the curls work well for texture.  Additionally, the fibers make a great, soft sock yarn.

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Gotland blends well with Alpaca and Yak.  The Hobbit cloaks from both Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit were made with a blend of Gotland and Alpaca.  Gotland is a very versatile fiber, well-suited for a multitude of uses, and a pleasure to work with.

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