The Gotland Sheep

Silver and Black Natural Colored Gotland Locks from Looking Glass Sheep and Wool

     Gotland sheep are a lustrous longwool breed coming from Sweden. Their coloring ranges from a pale grey to black and their wool does not discolor in the sun. Long distinctive curls form in a very open fleece, with lambs ranging sometimes in the low 20s for Micron count and adults hovering on the coarser side of 27-34 Microns. Unlike a crimp staple fleece, Gotland locks are shaped in a 3D spiral pattern. Gotland locks can be turned into beautiful felted accents, spun into art yarns as full locks, or spun into beautifully draping yarns with wonderful shine. Being a strong longwool, it makes for excellent outerwear or even socks. The fiber is close to Mohair and will produce a lovely halo as well. Take care drafting when spinning Gotland wool as it tends to be rather slick and dense. Swedish spinning mills even have a hard time spinning pure Gotland and it is typically processed as a blend. The fleeces shown above are lambswool from Looking Glass Sheep and Wool here in Michigan! We fell in love with these fleeces at the Michigan Fiber Fest in 2021, purchasing 3 in total, and are so happy to add this rare breed to our line. I have not personally been impressed with commercial Gotland roving, but these fleeces have completely won me over. We currently have the Black and Silver locks shown above available as 1oz bundles.

Micron Count27-34, lambs can be in the low 20s
Staple Length5-7″
Project Expectations-Medium to coarse longwool with lots of shine and drape.
-Strong and hard wearing. Great for outerwear, homewares, or use the locks intact as accents or texture.
-Locks have no crimp, but instead form a 3D spiral curl pattern.
-Rather slick wool that will need some skill drafting.
-Creates a lovely halo!
-This fiber does felt!

    Modern Gotland started being bred in the 1920s from the Gute sheep that made their home on the Gotland Island in the Baltic Sea. Gute were originally made with crosses of Karakul and Romanov sheep brought back from expeditions in Russia by Viking and Nordic settlers. Gotland are a very adaptable breed, since being developed on this island. Gotland sheep worked with the land, adapting to feeding on the rough forage and even went so far as to be able to drink seawater. Through strict breeding and selection, in the 1920s the Swedish were able to refine the Gotland breed to improve their fleece quality and by the 1970s there was a large spike in demand for these lustrous wools and pelts. In 1972 W. MacDonald was so taken with Gotland pelts that they imported 110 sheep into Scotland and the eventual dispersal of this flock established several purebred flocks in Britain. From these flocks, the U.S. has been able to import Gotlands through artificial insemination practices, and interest in their wool for handspinners has grown. We were also willing victims to its charms! There is a strain of Gotland sheep in New Zealand called the Stansborough Greys strain that was bred for fineness of wool. The wool grown by these sheep was chosen to weave the Lord of the Rings cloaks worn by the fellowship. The farm even still produces wool items made in just the same way as the movie cloaks!

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