How to tell a good fleece?

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10 years 4 months ago #36866 by Olivia
Hi all,

The family small holding 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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10 years 4 months ago #479720 by Olivia
Replied by Olivia on topic How to tell a good fleece?
Hmm...think this is actually more appropriate for "Crafty Place"...

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

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10 years 4 months ago #479775 by Stikkibeek
Have a read of the Bradford system on Wiki. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bradford_system
When you reach the bottom of that article, click also on wool classing and grading. I don't spin, but do know a little about good fleece for knitting. The fibre needs to be fine and long. Good breeds are Cheviot, merino for fine wool. Breeds like corridale or drysdale have coarser wool which is better suited to carpets. You can also take a small sample and try felting it to see how well it adheres. You don't necessarily want your spun wool to "matt" too well or the finished garment will shrink.

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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10 years 4 months ago #479776 by 2D
Replied by 2D on topic How to tell a good fleece?
What about Coopworth? I have a number of fleeces off those sheep. Would they be good for spinning/knitting? (Sorry, Olivia, to hijack your thread! but this might possibly help you too?)

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10 years 4 months ago #479791 by Breadcrumb
If I were choosing a fleece to spin I would look over the whole blanket after a good skirting (or even while its still on the animal) and make sure that it is even across the fleece. So check that it isn't short and woolly in one place and long and hairy in another for example. All fleeces will change to some degree across the body but compare your sheep and choose the most even. I process the fibre myself and an uneven fleece means more work in blending and I don't think ever gives as nice an end result (although I don't know about felting, it might be fine for that).

Lots of types of fleeces are good for spinning and are suitable for different end uses so maybe decide what you want the end use to be (fine shawl, baby clothes or tough outerwear for example) and then look at what would make a fleece more or less suitable for that purpose. You could look at length of staple, crimp, lustre, slipperiness, colour and the 'hand' (how it feels). I find that these things are more important than knowing the micron because I find that very fine fibre is actually not what I want to knit with.

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10 years 4 months ago #479821 by Olivia
Replied by Olivia on topic How to tell a good fleece?
Thank you all, great to have your input! 2D - hijack away, I'll learn from your q's!

Breadcrumb - I'm pleased to hear that it isn't necessarily important to know the exact micron, knowing that the look & feel of a fleece is a good enough indicator for personal projects is a relief as I had already buried my hands in various fleeces & decided which I liked best! Unfortunately, the crimpiest, silkiest fleece belongs to a hogget who had to be culled - fleece is only one aspect we can look at when deciding who goes & who stays on our small piece of land; the poor girl always had hoof issues which is a no-no in the damp conditions of our pasture.

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

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10 years 4 months ago #479825 by Mich
Replied by Mich on topic How to tell a good fleece?
Not sure I'd agree with you there about Corriedale wool being better suited to carpets, Stikki. :) I can understand Drysdale not being good for spinning/knitting as it's hairy, long and strong, but Corriedale is a nice medium micron fleece that lends itself well to knitting and craftwork. Interesting site, though. Thanks for posting it.

Pat Old wrote an excellent piece on the merits, preparation and spinning of Corriedale fleece. Here's the link: www.colouredsheep.org.nz/spin/corriedale.php

There are also spinners notes about other breeds there as well. Here's the link: www.colouredsheep.org.nz/breed_char.php :)

Don't be put off by the fact that it's a coloured sheep site - the fleece characteristics apply equally to white sheep. [;)] :D

Cheers, Mich.

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

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10 years 4 months ago #479830 by Iniuk
Replied by Iniuk on topic How to tell a good fleece?
In support of Corriedales, I've just spun and knitted a garment from Ashfords' Corriedale for DIL and she cannot believe the softness. When we had Romneys, we had quite a range of types in 60 odd sheep, keeping the ones I liked to spin, the fleeces got finer and finer over the years.

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10 years 4 months ago #479842 by chocolatewoolnz
I too am in support of Corriedales. A great all round breed. Wool type is popular for handcraft, as being stronger than merino it has a longer staple to work with and easier to spin.

86 acres with Gotland, coloured merino and a few white sheep www.chocolatewoolnz.com + 1300 strawberry plants www.gilchriststrawberries.co.nz

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