How to tell a good fleece?

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8 years 5 months ago #36867 by Olivia
This thread was originally in "Your Place" but I think this might be the proper "place"...please excuse the pun [;)] [B)] :D

The family smallholding runs a small flock of crossbred (...and crossbred again...etc. etc.) sheep that were originally kept only for meat. However, I am a keen knitter & since marring into hubby's family, have kept the fleece from the recent yearly shearing so I can send it away to be washed & carded, then try my hand at spinning.

Years ago when just a littlie, my Nan taught me to spin but I never learned the nature of fleece itself, such as various types & usage. Now I am wanting to know how to score the fleece of our sheep for fineness & best use i.e. spinning or felting. This will hep me determine which sheep are keepers & what to request the processor does with the fleece. Can anyone please tell me what aspects of a good fleece I should be looking for?

Proud Farmer of a little family, little lifestyle block and a little house in the township.

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8 years 5 months ago #479733 by Iniuk
Replied by Iniuk on topic How to tell a good fleece?
Lots of opinions about this topic I expect. For example, I learnt to spin on fairly coarse fleeces which were easy to spin and knitted into scratchy but warm farm jerseys. (If there is a Spinning group near you, make contact, a demo is worth 1,000 words.)
Look at a lock (staple) of the fleece- as a rough guide the crimpier (wigglier) it is, the finer the fleece. Long is good, but medium length might be easier for your first efforts. Pull off (skirt) the short and scruufy edges- I tend to 'save' these bits, but bad wool takes up as much space as good wool.
Find a really good place to hide (store) fleeces as you will start to get an embarrassing number if you get into this game.

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8 years 5 months ago #479749 by Olivia
Replied by Olivia on topic How to tell a good fleece?
Thanks for the help Iniuk! I am eagerly awaiting the start of this year's local creative fibre group in February :)

Proud Farmer of a little family, little lifestyle block and a little house in the township.

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8 years 5 months ago #479778 by Iniuk
Replied by Iniuk on topic How to tell a good fleece?
I'm sure it'll be great! We have a ton of fun and exchange lots of information. Just remember- as a dear older friend told me as a youngster- "You don't have to take anyone's advice- even mine!"

P.S. Have you found 'Ravelry' yet? ( www.ravelry.com )

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8 years 5 months ago #479819 by Olivia
Replied by Olivia on topic How to tell a good fleece?
Thanks for the tip on Ravelry, Iniuk. As a result I have just signed up :-)

Proud Farmer of a little family, little lifestyle block and a little house in the township.

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8 years 4 months ago #482056 by Huntaway
Replied by Huntaway on topic How to tell a good fleece?
Can anyone tell me if a fleece can be ruined by bad shearing? Today I sheared my first two sheep with shears (got blisters to prove it )but found I wasn't getting very close to the skin so the wool that came off was in bits rather than a fleece. I have a Gotland lamb still to do but was interested in perhaps doing something with his wool so don't want to "waste" it with my inexperience! Also how do I find out about getting it carded and spun? Again I have neither the tools or the know how to do this. 😊

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8 years 4 months ago #482170 by Mich
Replied by Mich on topic How to tell a good fleece?
Hi Huntaway - good on you for giving shearing your sheep a go (sorry about the blisters...).

Yes, a fleece can be ruined by bad shearing if the pieces are all of a wildly different length. It doesn't have to be a whole fleece - you can certainly use your pieces, but IMHO I'd sort/pack them into similar lengths if you're sending them off for carding/spinning. Also, make sure you get rid of any vegetable matter, any dirty matted areas and second cut (very short bits that can occur when you go over the same area a second time to "tidy up") as this will affect the end result. Shaking the wool well usually gets rid of these.

Any pieces too short for spinning can successfully be used for felting.

There are several places around the country that you can get your fibre processed. Here are a couple. There may be a minimum amount/length/weight required, so it would pay to check with them first.

www.greenacresfibres.co .nz
www.kanecarding.co .nz

Alternatively, if you have a smaller amount of fleece once you've gone over it and removed the rubbish, you could think about carding it yourself and seeing if any local spinners would be willing to spin it up for you. Hand carders aren't that expensive and I've seen it done with those wire dog brushes that you can pick up from a pet store. Plenty of online tutorials showing how to do it. Would be a nice winter activity beside the fire. :-)

Having a chat with your local spinning group will give you some great advice, I'm sure. Look forward to hearing how it turns out for you.

Cheers, Mich.

Good exercise for the heart is to bend down and help someone up. Anon.

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8 years 4 months ago #482261 by Huntaway
Replied by Huntaway on topic How to tell a good fleece?
Thanks for that Mich. I'll look into it further.

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