Buying a Raw Fleece?
Use this checklist to see if the fleece is suitable for your needs.
1. Have you looked over the whole fleece – not just the bit sticking out of the top of the bag?
2. Is the fleece free from second cuts that will cause neps and pilling?
3. Does the fleece separate easily demonstrating that it’s not felted or cotted?
4. Is the fleece sound – no visible breaks or weak lines across the staple?
5. Does the fleece have the softness or coarseness that you require?
6. Is the fleece free from staining from raddle marks, identification spray etc.?
7. Is the vegetable matter [hay, seeds etc.] minimal?
8. Is the fleece free of clumps of mud and dung?
9. Does the fibre have the lustre you require?
10. Is the fleece free of any evidence of insects or vermin?
11. Is the fleece free of visible scurf at the base of the staple?
12. Does the fleece have the staple length required for the project you have in mind?
13. Are the tips sound and not fragile or brittle?
14. Is the crimp appropriate for your intended use?
15. Is the fibre colour suitable for your needs?
Price to pay
Price can be influenced by so many things, and it’s not always the case that free fleeces are rubbish and expensive fleeces are the best, though generally you do get what you pay for.
A prize winning fleece will command a higher price than is usual for its breed. A spotlessly clean fleece in top condition may be valued at a few times the cost of a standard example.
Before deciding to part with your hard earned cash, it’s worth thinking about what this fleece will become. If you’re buying purely because you love it and you want to spend time at your craft spinning a fibre you love, then whatever price you are happy to pay is worth it. However, if you are processing the fleece with a view to selling items made from it then you will need consider carefully its value.
Never be afraid to say no to a fleece – even if it is free. If it’s not what you’re after or it's condition is too poor for your needs, you’ll end up having to dispose of it yourself, or spend time trying to find someone who does want it. But when you find a fleece you love, snap it up, and enjoy the many hours you’ll spend with it.