So perhaps you’ve experimented with spinning Gotland as in this previous post and you’d like to experiment further. Or perhaps you’re already used to working with fleece but you’ve not used Gotland before or are looking for some fresh ideas of things you can do with it.
I love Gotland sheep; they have the funniest, friendliest, biggest personalities of the sheep world. I find their fibre intriguing to work with. But I have to confess that I am very sensitive to most British wools and find that quite a lot of Gotland wool is too strong a fibre for me to wear next to my skin on it’s own. So I like to blend Gotland with other fibres to change the way it works. Sometimes it changes the look, sometimes the hand (feel) of the finished yarn and combined with the way you spin it you can make a whole range of yarns for knitting, weaving or crocheting with. Or indeed felting with; Gotland felts superbly and makes a very hard wearing felt so you can full or felt the finished item to change it’s appearance and use yet further.
Gotland on it’s own is a silky fibre, long stapled, lustrous and smooth. It combines well with similar staple length fibres and my favourites include BlueFaced Leicester (BFL) wool, alpaca and silk. In the following examples I’ve used commercially dyed merino top instead of BFL as that is what I have to hand currently and that also works very well and like BFL it bulks out the yarn slightly and makes a softer yarn.
Here I’ve taken the same Gotland fleece I overdyed in teal shades and blended with duck egg colour merino, silk I hand dyed in turquoise/green shades and white alpaca so show how you can vary the yarn both in terms of colour, texture and appearance. Alpaca makes for a more chalky looking finish and soft yarn, merino or BFL also bulk out the yarn and the gotland gives the other wools more of a lustre and makes for a very smooth spin. The silk not only softens the hand of the fibre but also ups the lustre and makes an almost luminescent sheen to it, a very grown up yarn indeed!
Left: with “duck egg” merino top. Centre: with handdyed silk brick. Right: with white alpaca
With the next example dyed in shades of lavender and mauve I did something similar, again using merino, silk and alpaca only this time I used dark grey alpaca to show how a coloured fibre changes the look of it – white makes for pastel shades and grey or brown fibres make a more murky saddened tone. You can play around with different natural colour base fibres to see what works best with the colour you are working with.
Left: with hand dyed silk brick. Centre: with “heather” merino top. Right: with grey alpaca
I carded all these on a drumcarder because that’s my preferred tool for blending but of course you can blend these just as well on hand cards or combs/hackle.
Carding dyed fleece on a drumcarder will blend all the shades together. If you want a uniform colour then this is ideal but some of the colours are complimentary rather than different tones and shades of the same colour and you might want to keep them separate.
Hand carding rolags enables you to pick out a few locks of colour at a time and make a series of rolags in different shades which you can spin in a colour gradient or randomly allowing for a variegated yarn. You can play with this further by choosing to ply it as a two-ply yarn which will create a more heather barber pole yarn or to Navajo ply/Chain ply which gives a 3-ply yarn which preserves the colours as they appear in the singles yarn.
This the resulting woollen yarn from 100% Gotland fleece. The singles were spun longdraw from the rolags and then plied together creating a 2-ply heathered yarn.
If you’re visiting Wonderwool Wales this weekend and fancy trying blending Gotland with some of the fibres mentioned there are plenty of fibre suppliers from large companies to small indie dyers providing a huge range of fibres for us spinners to choose from!
Katie who’s kindly letting me sell my fleece from her stall (HilltopCloud – stand N4) has both hand dyed silk brick and super fine alpaca amongst the gorgeous dyed braids she’s been creating ready for the show. Why not give it a go?! If you’re curious about drum carding then you should also pay a visit to our friend Jill who is demonstrating drumcarding for Paul Brittain of Classic Carders (stand D11) and will also be selling her hand dyed fibres there – she’s a wonderful teacher and you can see for yourself how fun it is to blend fibres together and come up with fantastic combinations of colour and texture. See you there hopefully!