What Shepherds need to know about producing fleeces for handspinners:

1. How you feed the sheep can effect how much vegetable matter ends up in the fleece. Don't feed from above, mow the tall weeds once in a while [maybe twice a year]. If you coat the sheep it can help keep vm out of the fleece.

2. When shearing it is better to try to keep the fleece in one piece.

3. If you shear wet sheep and store the fleeces they mold.

4. Before shearing you can run a dustbuster or a shop vac over the sheep.

5. If you skirt the fleece before storing or selling it, it is worth more per pound to the handspinner. Handspinners deal with raw fleece because it is cheaper than processed fiber and/or they like the process. Nobody likes "tags" [also known as poop} in the fleece.

6. Fresher fleeces are preferred. This year's fleece is worth more than last year's fleece.

7. Finer fleeces are worth more than coarse ones. Many handspinners like colored fleeces, too. A nice colored fleece will usually be worth more than a nice white one.

8. There are uses for most fleeces. Coarse is good for rugs, mid-grade is great for purses and outerwear, fine is good for next-to-the-skin, very fine is good for baby clothes. Just because it is not fine doesn't mean that it is not worth selling, just that it will be worth less.

9. Although some spinners prefer a longer staple, and some spinners will spin shorter staples, between 3" and 6" will generally be the best range.

10. Be honest. Learn to accurately describe the fleece, and offer fleeces with problems at a lower price. Be ready to send a sample lock, or supply good photos.

11. Some [but not all of course] breeds of sheep that are favored among handspinners:

  • Shetland
  • Corriedale
  • Romney
  • Merino
  • Rambouillet
  • Coopworth
  • Blue Faced Leicester