Whether you're a spinner, a dyer or a felter, you need a good source of affordable wool. If you resell your finished products, buying wholesale wool is ideal to increase your profit margins and cut out the middle man. You can also develop a good relationship with your supplier, learn more about the sheep that produce fibre, and expand your knowledge of wool when you shop straight from the farm.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Find a sheep farm in your area. Check with your local spinning or fibre guild, visit a local fibre fair or check possible listings in your area. Try calling a fibre processing or carding mill if there is one in your area.
Decide on the type of wool you prefer. Opt for merino, blue-faced Leicester or Shetland wools or blends for hand spinning.
Examine the fleeces. Look for fleeces that are skirted or have had the dirtiest parts around the backside and underbelly removed. Choose a fleece with minimal vegetable matter. Smell the fleece and avoid any fleece that has a foul odour as opposed to smelling like sheep.
Remove a lock of the fleece. Grasp both ends and tug sharply. Choose a different fleece if the fibres break easily. Check for felting on the tips and multiple cut marks on the underside of the fleece.
Negotiate a price, if appropriate. Expect to pay more, even at wholesale, for softer wool, lambswool and award-winning fleeces. Ask for discounts if you are purchasing multiple fleeces or are buying before shearing.
Develop a relationship with a local shepherd to acquire wholesale wool at affordable prices, and possibly to get your pick of the fleeces at shearing time.
Tips and warnings
- Be ready to wash raw fleece when you bring it home to avoid your fibre storage area smelling like sheep.
- While wholesale fleeces are inexpensive, raw wool requires a substantial time investment for processing, including washing and carding.
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