~Our teacher, Margaret, received a donation of quite a few different sheep breed fleeces this semester. Some of the fleeces came from sheep that had been abandoned and rescued by Animal Control. Margaret demonstrated how to “listen” to a lock of good fiber so that we could hear the “ping” noise. After trying it, we listened to the pulled lock of fiber from a stressed animal and it did not have that odd “ping” noise. She told us that is one test we need to try before purchasing a fleece. If you have some raw fleece try it!
The “bad” fleece we listened to was from a Suffolk breed. To most of us the raw fleece looked fine. Upon our physical inspection we could determine problems: 1. The lock did not ping, and 2. when stressing the lock by pulling on it the fibers broke. Margaret demonstrated what would happen if it were combed. The combed locks broke into little pieces clumping together. I’m not at the point in my spinning yet where I’d purchase a whole fleece, but I’m glad to learn how to pick one out if and when I’m in the market.
Tip: If you have some raw, smelly fleece that cannot be processed or spun because the animal it came from was stressed and the locks break into small bits, use it as a gopher repellent! Tightly pack the fleece pieces into the gopher holes. Other members of class swear that this works. There was a huge bag of smelly, unusable fleece and it was snatched up by the people with gopher-riddled yards. My parents sure could have used this tip.