How to Select a Fleece for Hand Spinning

hand spinningFleece refers to the coat of wool covering a wool-bearing animal, such as a sheep or a long-haired goat. The process of fleece selection is an daunting experience. Many factors determine how wool feels and choosing the best is key to having a superior finished product. Are you aware of the factors to look at when selecting a fleece for your next spinning project? Don’t be troubled. This guide looks at all you need to evaluate to make your selection the best and enhance your spinning work.

Fleece Damage

The damage can be caused by many factors including inadequate food or water during the growing season. Other factors may include illness or the use of poor dipping techniques. The most common sign of a damaged one is frequent breaks in the staple. A break refers to a weakness in the fibers. When stretched, they cause the staple to break.

When checking out a fleece, pull out a staple or two and check them for weakness. Any that has some breaks can pose to quite frustrating to work with. Also, check for vegetable matter and the general cleanliness as it is not possible to spin one that has a lot of plant matter or debris.

How to select the ideal fleece for handspinning

Here are some tricks and tips that you should consider when choosing the ideal fleece for handspinning.

(i) Clean

A fleece should always be clean and free from any vegetable matter or debris. It is possible to clean and card the debris although this may involve a lot of work. Take this into consideration when making a purchase to save yourself a lot of time and hard work.

(ii) Crimp

Sheep and woolen animals are of different breeds and have varying amounts of crimp or waviness in the fiber. The amount of crimp affects how the fiber spins and the type of yarn it is spun from. There are two distinct types of crimp where one is wavy such as Romney while the other is closer together such as Merino. They make the best options for spinning.

(iii) Lustre

For different breeds of sheep, there are varying amounts of lustre or sheen in the wool. The lustre affects the way light is reflected and what the finished product will look like. Some wool may be more suitable for blankets and heavy clothes while others are better used for finely spun and woven fabrics.

(iv) Staple Length

For your hand spinning to be successful, the fleece you select should have a staple length of between 10 to 15 cm. Anything less than that will make spinning difficult and unpleasant.

(iv) Second cuts

Second cuts are the short pieces of wool that are caused when the shearer passes over an area on the sheep that the person trimming has already passed the shears over. Second cuts can be removed from the fleece during the carding or combing process. However, second cuts are undesirable.


Skirting is done in order to remove any inferior pieces on the outer edge . This is mostly done during the shearing period when the fleece is rolled with the inner-cut surface at the outside. When making a purchase, request for one that is unrolled so that you can see its overall condition.