As the name suggests – these sheep have been selectively bred for their wool – which is soft, crimped, has a lovely lustre and usually a long staple. Gotland fleeces are a favourite with spinners, felters and crafters and there are many small flocks of these sheep around the country now. A recent importation of improved Swedish genetics will only increase the popularity of these fleeces.
Garments made from Gotland wool have a similarly soft feel and fluffy appearance as garments made from alpaca fibre. To many people it comes as a surprise how warm a garment made from untreated wool feels.
The photograph on the right shows a jumper made from a moderately matted raw Gotland Pelt fleece which was purchased off a breeder. The owner carded and spun the wool herself, then knitted the jumper. She says that wearing it feels like wearing a hug.
The main problem with Gotland fleeces is that they easily mat if the sheep are not shorn at the right time. Once a fleece has started to mat it is almost impossible to card it. A matted fleece comes off the sheep in one piece and holds together very well.
Gotland fleeces come in a range of colours from silvery grey to almost black. While the tips of some fleeces may have a brownish tinge, giving the sheep a brown appearance, once carded and spun, the yarn will resemble the under colour of the fleece.