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Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Sourcing raw fleece

I thought I'd start by doing a simple post starting right at the beginning! Where to get fleece to spin.
The first small bag of fleece I ever received was from a lady who had been spinning for some years. She gave me a small bagful to experiment with. Well, I drop spindled that bit and then set my sights on looking for whole fleeces. I wanted to work with raw fleece rather than prepared fibres so I could learn all I could from the beginning. I do buy prepared fibres sometimes too.

I started off by looking at the website for the British Wool Marketing Board but the postage costs put me off. So my next step was to contact local farm parks. I found that the rare breeds farm in the area had a wide selection of sheep breeds and that is where I went. I bought around five different fleece to start with and they were very reasonably priced. Now, I go back each shearing time. I also asked the pig farmer here on the farm and he had a friend with a flock of soay sheep who was eager to pass on a few fleeces as the fleeces just sit in his barn otherwise.

I have also discovered that simply asking around - anyone - other spinners, yarn shops, farmers -they all may know of someone. Just this past weekend, I met a wonderful master spinner who offered me a beautiful black wensleydale fleece come shearing time. I am excited about that! Or popping in to farms and asking if they have any fleece to part with helps. Here in England, farmers get virtually nothing through selling their wool on to the Wool Marketing Board and sadly sometimes fleece is burnt or taken to the tip or just left for years in barns.

I know sometimes local guild members bring in different supplies to swap/share/sell.

Also try freecycle.

Please do share where you have sourced fleece and any ideas you may have to share. Some folks of course are lucky enough to have their own sheep or alpacas or other wonderful fleece sharing animal friends!