Rhinebeck report

I bought a fleece. I wasn’t planning on it, hadn’t even given it a thought really, but I’d been walking around with Cassandra all day, neither of us tempted by anything we saw, and when she suggested we take a look at the fleece sale, I said sure. It was late in the day, and I figured it would be pretty picked over, but the section with my favorite kind of fleece to spin (colored longwools) had plenty of good stuff. I found a small (4 lb.) charcoal/black Gotland that I fell for pretty hard, and so I bought it.

I didn’t know anything about Gotlands before I picked this up, though I think I held a hazy notion of them being sort of similar to Icelandics. That’s not all that far off, structure-wise, I think, since the fleece does contain what looks an awful lot like an undercoat and outercoat:

I don’t think they’re classified as a primitive breed though, which I’m guessing has something to do with the fact that most of the extant flocks have had a fair amount of human tinkering when it comes to breeding, but that’s true of Icelandics and Shetlands too, and they’re still considered primitive, so clearly I don’t really know what I’m talking about. I do think Gotland might be replacing Romney as my favorite spinning breed though, based on my limited handling of this one and what Deb Robson has to say about them in The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, which is basically that it has a lot of the same qualities of luster and length and drape that mohair or the British longwools have, but that it’s remarkably soft for all that. Also, the elven cloaks in the Lord of the Rings movies were made from New Zealand-bred Gotlands, so there’s that.

I was originally thinking about spinning it in the grease because it’s really pretty clean and not especially greasy, but decided against it because of the poop factor. Instead, I’m going to do two rounds of hot-water soaks in small batches (about two big handfuls per), which I think should get out most of the dirt and muck while retaining some of the lanolin. Then I’ll card it (using dog brushes, I guess, since I sold my handcards years ago and don’t especially want to buy new ones when $5 dog brushes will get the job done) and spin a two-ply worsted-weight yarn for a big, cozy sweater that I’ll wear to death.

The fleece was the only thing I bought at Rhinebeck this year, the only thing that tempted me even a little. I had the same reaction there that I did the last time I went to a TJ Maxx—seeing such abundance of yarn/fleece/clothing/things to buy made me feel a little dizzy, even sick. It made me want to have a tiny, tiny stash in which everything is earmarked for a particular project that happens to be something I want desperately to have in my closet. I actually came home yesterday and cleared out more than half of my yarn stash, and it felt delicious. So much of it is stuff that I’ve had for ages and would never buy today, a phenomenon that’s also true of my clothes. I’ve been feeling an urge lately to impose upon myself what Erin of Dress a Day calls the “live like a stereotypical architect project“—a few pairs of pants, a few skirts, some shirts and sweaters: done. Will I do it though? We’ll see…


  1. says

    A friend gave me a *very* primitive drum carder. I’m trying to work my way through a bunch of alpaca. You are welcome to come over sometime and give it a spin.

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