What wool should I choose for felting?
Have you wondered if you should use Gotland wool? If you have done any needle felting at all, or you are looking to start you will be wondering what breed of wool to use. I was lucky when I was just beginning I had a flock of sheep with wool that worked perfectly for needle felting. Romney wool has been my favorite for years and what I use in 95% of my sculptures. I have been asked many times what my favorite wool breed is to use when felting. I would always say Romney, but didn’t feel qualified to honestly answer that question without trying out different types of wool.
In 2015 I began needle felting through the sheep breeds, making a certain breed of sheep out of it’s own wool. I also began hosting a Felt-Along on Facebook so we can all felt together and discuss our thoughts on the wool we have chosen for that felt along. I have learned a lot about the different breeds as well as their wool as we go. I have been posting what I have learned here on my website for each of the wool breeds I have used, giving my opinion based on my experience felting with the wool. Keep in mind fleeces can vary greatly within the same breed depending on their health and care. I try to keep this in mind as I give my opinions.
I felted a sheep using Gotland wool and want to share with you what I found.
It is believed that Gotland sheep are descendants of flocks established on the Swedish island of Gotland during the Viking era. They have beautiful, lustrous long curly fiber in a wide range of grays. The curly wool is super shiny and soft and their pelts are prized world wide. Gotlands were introduced in North America by crossing specific non-Gotland foundation sheep breeds with Gotland genetics, through imported semen. Through 10 years of up-breeding, Gotland percentages have increased in North America to as high as 99% as of 2016. gsbana.org
I have not personally met a Gotland sheep yet but I am told they are friendly and inquisitive which makes them a pleasant breed to own. One thing I was not aware of is that they are naturally short tailed which is a definite plus for raising Gotland sheep.
Felting with Gotland
I have had experience in the past felting with Gotland wool using the curly locks in several sculptures. I have not however tried needle felting with Gotland roving, until now. Kelly of Namekagon Valley Farm and Studio sent me some lovely Gotland roving and curly locks from her flock of sheep that she raises on her farm near Hayward, WI. She also supplied the pictures of Gotland sheep that I am sharing in this article.
The Gotland roving is extremely lustrous (shiny) and soft and I thoroughly enjoyed spinning it into yarn. Needle felting the roving proved somewhat difficult in that the needle wouldn’t grab the wool very well and pull it in making the process slower and more frustrating. The fiber is more slippery and smooth making it difficult to needle felt in my opinion. It does felt, but takes much longer than other wool breeds. I used the Gotland roving for the body of my sheep and grew too frustrated trying to use it for the legs and ended up making them out of Romney.
The curly locks which I used to add the wool texture to my sheep are beautiful with soft springy curls throughout. They take awhile to felt into place because of the smooth nature of the fiber but the results are well worth it in this instance. Good quality curly locks can be hard to find and some breeds do not have the springy curl that Gotland has. I would recommend Gotland curly locks over most other breeds.
I will be giving Gotland Wool a score of 6 on a scale of 1-10.
- #1 for beautiful soft curly locks
- If you want your sculpture to have a shiny look Gotland would be perfect.
- The lustrous fiber will give your sculpture a shiny look, which may be ok or not depending on what you are felting.
- The felting needle did not easily grab the smooth fiber making it frustrating to needle felt
- limited to one natural color – gray
These of course are strictly my opinions please share your thoughts on needle felting with Gotland below in the comments. If you are interested in learning more about felting and working with me check out the Bear Creek Needle Felting Academy.
Check out my other articles in this series – Needle Felting through the sheep breeds.
If you raise sheep and would like me to try needle felting with your specific breed of wool please contact me. I love to support small farms and shepherds.
Comparison Chart from the Needle Felting through the Sheep Breeds Series
- Icelandic - 6
- Jacob - 3
- Blue Faced Leicester - 6
- Corriedale - 7
- Southdown - 7
- Shetland - 6
- Merino - 8
- Gotland - 6
- Romney - 10