November 5, 2015
Back in March, I was looking to expand my little fiber flock beyond the merino sisters that arrived the summer before. When shopping for a new breed, it is like a child visiting a toy store…so many to choose from, so many wonderful attributes for each one! I settled on the Gotland breed, and to make sure the fleece was what I was looking for, I purchased a fleece in the raw (aka dirty) from a producer over the internet.
It just so happened that in the spring, Forrest was in grade 3 and the Waldorf curriculum focuses in part on fiber and wool. So, he and I rolled up our sleeves and set to work cleaning, which is really mostly soaking. We used a clear rubbermaid to watch the water colour which is a reliable way to see how clean you’ve made your wool. At first, the water was a muddy black but after several soaks, it was almost clear. Then, we added dishsoap to warmer water and did several soaks in that. As a final rinse, you add a little vinegar to the water to disintegrate the soap suds. A little lavender oil to repel moths makes the wool smell heavenly.
I sorted the wool into colours as Gotland sheep have a fantastic range of greys. I use Viking combs rather than card my wool which gives a more aligned fibre for spinning. I quite enjoy the process, though it can be dangerous work with the 3 inch long tines that easily poke through skin! Once combed, the spinning began. I usually spin in the evenings when I can devote more time to a concentrated quiet. I find spinning so peaceful and rhythmic…just right before bedtime.
The wool is really spectacular…soft and silky with a nice long crimp. I enjoyed working with this Gotland fleece so much I ended up purchasing his newborn sister. Stella Blue arrived in July this past summer and she is a delicate little doll compared to my solid and strong merinos.
I spun up over 700 yards of three ply, most likely in dk weight. I like 3 ply the best as it has less chance of getting nubby or pilly. It takes a lot longer, but it is so much more durable in the end.
What began in March and took until October to spin, will continue into the winter months as a knitting project for one of these monkeys. I see a vest ~ or two ~ emerging from the yards of homespun wool. And if there isn’t enough wool to make two, well, after shearing day in the spring, there will be a whole other fleece to transform.
Homegrown wool…the stash keeps on growing, as long as I feed my sheep.
*joining Ginny and yarn lovers here