At the Woolshed, incoming fleeces arrive directly from the shear in their full grease. We have an information sheet for anyone inquiring about the process to advise them about the presentation of the fleeces they send. This covers things like moth infestation, felting, excessive veg contamination and clart (we charge by incoming weight, so it is self interest to remove 'heavies').
Once on the sorting table we are looking for the gradients where the fleece changes in its macron count. Heavy veg and clart get discarded, as do second clips and noils. The fleece is tested for its strength (If the sheep has been ill that year it often tells in the fleece which will break when snapped along its staple length) A good last shake and bang on the grid sorting table will send any last second clip and more debris through the mesh. Each piece is then put into the appropriate barrel, first, second or third grade or first grade second grade colours if the client wants them separate rather than blended as they come.
After washing and drying, more debris is removed in the picking and carding stages. Depending on the degree of veg contamination in the original fleece there will always be the odd bit of veg left behind.
Our process takes fibres to a large carded batt for hand spinning or felt making, or picked fleece for stuffing. In the future we would like to raise the money to invest in more equipment to take fibres to yarn. We would welcome any show of hands that would be interested in using any Kent based mini mill to yarn processing in the future so that we can compile a feasibility study for the years ahead.
Thanks, interesting reading, we remove all visible vegetation and keep it as clean as possible before shearing. Spray marking is kept to an absolute minimum and we only select the very best fleeces. The second cuts and bits is where I struggle, with lustre wools the whole fleece would fall through the grid as they just don’t cling together. Also with lambs wool it’s difficult to do on a grid as you end up losing a lot, any suggestions
From the coalface:
Lustre wools, yes they tend to react more like slippery silky hair and the batts created from these fibres are more delicate and spin up with a heavier drape to the finished product than the more woolly fleeces. So far I have processed BFL and Wensleydale in this category and not had much of a problem with it falling through the grid. However with lambs wool.... I have some of that from this years clip to try. I will be covering the grid table with a finer mesh but as my floor is lino I can still reclaim and examine what falls through that might still be useful fibre. The thing you have to consider also is what your end use is. I have yet to discover how short a fibre will work on my electric carder and for spinning you will need a certain length of fibre in order to draft it. I hope to make some pieces of soft felt out of ours. We will let you know if that is successful or not !
Hi, we can process your raw fleece through to carded batts. You then have a product ready for hand spinning, to produce yarn for knitting. (With 4 fleeces you don't have enough to send off to a commercial mill for processing mechanically in to yarn.)
We are about to offer a new service where people can send their raw fleece to us, along with a favourite photo, and we will produce cushions for you to keep/ give as gifts/ sell through your farm shop etc.
Must get on and put a post up about that, thanks for the prompt. PM us if you would like to pursue any of the above. We are Kent, but we have processed fleece from further away than Hereford it's pretty good on courier pricing.
Made a start on shearing today. The wool from the Dorset and Portland tegs will be graded and sent away for spinning into yarn at a commercial mill, the Wensleydale wool will be processed and hand spun in-house for our knitwear.
To process raw fleece into carded batts ready for spinning. £25/kg.
To process raw fleece into picked wool (ie the stage before carding) for use as stuffing, craft activity. £20/kg
(Note that the price is on incoming weight, ie it is in your interest to pick out any daggings etc to keep the weight down to usable fleece.)
Send us your raw fleece, along with a favourite photo (livestock, pet, children.....)
We will process your fleece into a beautifully fluffy, sustainable alternative to polyester, and use as stuffing for a cushion featuring your photo.
A treat for yourself, gift for a loved one, or distinctive product to sell in your farm shop etc.
1 cushion: £60. 10 cushions: £30.